Watching John Tanner

8 05 2008

Just watching. Always watching.

“Some of us oppose creating a new entitlement program in an emergency spending bill, whether it’s butchers, bakers or candlestick-makers,” said Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.), a founding member of the Blue Dog Coalition who serves on the House leadership team as a deputy whip.

The so-called GI Bill of Rights, authored by Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), would give veterans money for college and cost $720 million in its first two years. But critics say that could grow to billions in future years.

House Democratic leaders attached it to the supplemental spending bill figuring Bush wouldn’t dare veto veterans’ benefits. If he did, Republicans would pay a steep political cost.

But that calculation is now causing heartburn for Blue Dogs, the same members who have generally supported war funding. The fiscally conservative coalition is split. Some members are willing to block the bill because “pay-as-you-go” budgetary rules — offsetting new spending with spending cuts or increased taxes — have been ignored one too many times. Others, like Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.), don’t want to oppose benefits for veterans.

“It’s a cost of the war,” Barrow said.

Just call me a political voyeur.





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