Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Power of the Purse

One of the basic tenets of our checks and balances is that Congress controls the money (the "power of the purse"), which the Executive commands the military. Theoretically, the Executive can only pursue military action with the consent of Congress.

The Bush administration has blown to smithereens this fundamental balance of power.

It began with initiating military action in Iraq without the prior approval of Congress. (This approval was given,in a limited degree, after the invasion. What a sad joke.)

Once a war is begun, the only tool Congress has left to check an out of control Executive is the budgetary process. Congress is left in the position of not passing funding bills for the military, which would be viewed as "not supporting our troops." (About the only point of agreement between the two partisan parties is that both want to help and support our soldiers).

And really, it likely wouldn't change anything if Congress did cut funding. Bush wouldn't pull the troops - he would instead (as he has continuously done every other time money has run out) keep the troops in harms way without funding.

Spending has 3 times now overrun caps - the Executive pays no heed. If the money was indeed cut off, the troops would probably suffer as maintenance and supplies ran low. Bush would point to their suffering as the fault of the opposition. (The opposition in this case not being the Iraqi insurgency, but the democratically elected representatives of the people of the U.S.).

So regardless of whether a majority of elected representatives vote to end a war, it really doesn't matter if you have an Executive who chooses to ignore the will of the people.

This war will only come to a close once Bush is out of office.

I think all the current candidates for President are crazy - their first term is really going to suck.

UPDATE: Wow, no sooner do I post this, than I see this article...that basically says what I just said.

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