While some leaders in Washington -- including, apparently, President Obama and Speaker Boehner -- want to cut Social Security benefits and raise the retirement age for Medicare, the White House and the Pentagon are planning to increase spending on the U.S. occupation of Iraq by extending the U.S. military presence without Congressional approval.
Seventy-seven Members of the House, led by Barbara Lee and Walter Jones, have a different idea: obey the December deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq that the U.S. has agreed with the Iraqi government and that President Obama has touted as fulfillment of his campaign promise to end the Iraq war.
In a letter to the president circulating in the House, the Representatives write:
We are writing to urge you to hold to our nation's Status of Forces Agreement with the government of Iraq that commits our nation to bringing all of our troops and military contractors home at the end of this calendar year.
We are deeply concerned to learn that your Administration is considering plans to keep potentially thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq beyond the end of this year. Extending our presence in Iraq is counterproductive - the Iraqi people do not support our continued occupation. Remaining in Iraq would only further strengthen the perception that we are an occupying force with no intention of leaving Iraq.
Note that Senator Reid's deficit-reduction plan -- which doesn't cut Social Security benefits or raise the Medicare retirement age -- counts the expected savings from ending the Iraq war. If 10,000 U.S. troops stay in Iraq past December, that will take away from the savings of the Reid plan, and pressure for more domestic budget cuts will increase.
The Lee-Jones letter will be sent this week, because the U.S. has set an August 1st deadline for the Iraqi government to request that U.S. troops stay.
Here are the 75 Members who had signed the letter as of this morning, in addition to Lee and Jones:
Baldwin, Bass (CA-33), Braley,Capuano, Cicilline, Clark (MI-13), Clarke (NY-11),Cleaver, Clyburn, Cohen, Conyers, Costello, Davis (IL-7), DeFazio, Doggett, Duncan (TN-2), Ellison, Farr, Filner, Frank, Fudge, Garamendi, Grijalva, Gutierrez, Hanabusa, Hastings (FL-23), Heinrich, Hirono, Honda, Jackson Jr. (IL-2), Jackson-Lee, Johnson (TX-30),Johnson (IL-15), Kaptur, Kucinich, Lewis (GA-5), Loebsack, Lofgren, Lujan, Maloney, Matsui, McDermott,McGovern, Michaud, Miller (CA-7), Moore, Nadler, Napolitano, Norton, Olver, Paul, Payne, Rangel,Richardson, Rush, Sanchez (CA-47), Schakowsky, Scott (VA-3), Serrano, Sewell, Slaughter, Speier, Stark, Thompson (CA-1), Tonko, Towns, Tsongas, Waters, Watt, Welch, Wilson (FL-17), Woolsey, Yarmuth
If your Representative isn't on this list, and you don't want your Social Security and Medicare benefits cut to pay for the continued occupation of Iraq, call your Rep. at 202-225-3121 or email them here and ask them to sign the Lee-Jones letter.