Republicans Stall the START Treaty And Dream of More Deficit Spending

President Barack Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev sign START

Here is what we’re hearing from the Republicans since the midterms:

1)      Attack Iran

2)      Do not cut defense spending

3)      Put nuclear treaty with Russia on back burner

In exchange, Republicans have said they will voluntarily forgo earmarks.

There should be dancing in the street.

Smoke and mirrors is how the Republicans govern. Lots of flash, lots of misdirection (invade Iraq, anyone?) and endless spin, but nothing of any real substance, no evidence that any Republican is really interested in real world problems or in solving them.

Jon Kyl, who is the second-ranking Senate Republican said Congress is too busy to consider the nuclear treaty, signed by Obama in April.

“When Majority Leader Harry Reid asked me if I thought the treaty could be considered in the lame-duck session, I replied I did not think so given the combination of other work Congress must do and the complex and unresolved issues related to START and modernization.”

It’s not as if getting control of nuclear stockpiles is important or anything. The new START treaty would commit the U.S. and Russia to cut their deployed nuclear weapons by about 30 percent within seven years.

Of course, ratifying the treaty is one of President Obama’s major goals. It’s no surprise that the Republicans don’t find it important. They’re going to be too busy grandstanding to actually do anything.

And what does Kyl want? Kyl wants more money for modernization of U.S. strategic forces i.e. nuclear forces. But Obama did pledge to spend $80 billion over the next decade on upgraded our nuclear forces. Doesn’t sound too complex to me.

Always with the defense spending. The Republicans seem to have a one-track mind.

You would think Republicans would be concerned about Russia’s nuclear weapons. After all, they might fall into the hands of terrorists. And as Vice President Joe Biden points out,

“Without ratification of this treaty, we will have no Americans on the ground to inspect Russia’s nuclear activities, no verification regime to track Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal … and no verified nuclear reductions.”

Gosh, you think it might be the oversight that bothers Republicans? They don’t want oversight anywhere, not of the oil industry, Wall Street, or even their own ethics. Maybe they don’t think the Russians should be bothered by it either.

Apparently they only care about WMDs when Iraq or Iran have them, er, um…make that don’t have them.

Republicans claim we need an anti-missile defense system [cue to them rubbing their hands greedily together in anticipation]. But isn’t the best way to get rid of a missile threat to get rid of the missiles themselves? Oh wait, a missile defense system is another way to spend money and ratchet up the U.S. deficit. Getting rid of missiles gives Republicans less to spend money on.

Now I get it.

Though they really don’t have any valid argument to base their objections on. Ambassador Richard Burt,  who was one of the chief negotiators when the original START treaty was agreed, points out that his is a rather modest agreement that reduces existing U.S. forces by between 20 and 25 percent,” he said. “It doesn’t affect our existing force structure of bombers and land-based missiles and sea-based missiles. And it provides for a very rigorous verification regime.”

Sounds good to me. It’s not as if the treaty will make America weaker, or threaten our national security, which is what Republicans claim they are concerned about. But defense spending has become as important to Republicans as abortion, and they are ideologically wedded to both. Meanwhile, they will continue to play games and pretend to be concerned about the deficit, and expect the American people to go along with their spiel. Republicans likely will, if only with a nod and a wink (the alternative is stupidity and I want to be magnanimous) but Democrats and independents ought to be concerned.

There is simply no excuse to keep defense spending where it is when so many Americans are suffering and being asked to give up so much. It is not justified by circumstances and it is completely and irredeemably immoral.

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