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God's Politics

The latest news on Iraq, Iran, the budget, another candidate-Giuliani, and select Op-eds.

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Full news summary:

Budget. Bush Plan Reins In Domestic Spending – “President Bush took aim at domestic spending as part of a plan to balance the budget in five years without raising taxes while increasing funding for the Iraq war and permanently expanding the military.” Bottom line for Bush’s ’08 budget: contention– “The heat flared up immediately as Republicans lined up squarely behind Bush’s budget for fiscal 2008, while Democrats castigated it as both heartless and fiscally irresponsible.” Bush Releases Budget Aimed to Erase Deficit– “The budget, in four volumes and 2,500 pages of text, charts and tables, made few concessions to the political realities facing Mr. Bush.” Bush budget puts pinch on domestic spending -“President Bush yesterday proposed deep cuts to federal healthcare, education, and transportation programs searching for new money in the federal budget to pay for increasingly costly defense programs and the war in Iraq.” Bush’s budget beefs up defense – “President Bush, seeking $245 billion more for the nation’s two wars at a time when Congress is challenging an escalation of U.S. military force in Iraq, proposed a $2.9 trillion federal budget that would significantly increase defense spending while restraining other areas of the government.” Bush budget gives boost to defense – “Including national security programs of other agencies, such as the Departments of State and Energy, the United States would spend more on security next year than the rest of the world combined.” Medicare may get a $66-billion trim – “The budget President Bush proposed calls for the deepest Medicare cuts of his six years in office and falls short in expanding health coverage to uninsured children.”

Democrats bashing Bush’s budget now must craft their own – “As they criticized Bush’s proposed $145 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, reductions in Medicare and Medicaid, and spending restraint in social programs such as education and the environment, Democrats confronted a harsh reality: Now they must write a budget of their own.” Democrats Face Limits in Changing Bush’s Budget– “while Democratic critics may wish to challenge the administration’s blueprint, political and fiscal constraints will make it hard for them to assert their own priorities.”

Iraq. G.O.P. Senators Block Debate on Iraq Policy– “Republicans blocked Senate debate on a bipartisan resolution opposing President Bush’s troop buildup in Iraq, leaving in doubt whether the Senate would render a judgment on what lawmakers of both parties described as the paramount issue of the day.” GOP Stalls Debate On Troop Increase – “A long-awaited Senate showdown on the war in Iraq was shut down before it even started when nearly all Republicans voted to stop the Senate from considering a resolution opposing President Bush’s plan to send 21,500 additional combat troops into battle.” GOP bats down resolution debate– “The most serious congressional challenge to President Bush’s Iraq war strategy stalled when Senate Republicans blocked consideration of a resolution criticizing his plan to boost troop levels.” Debate on war stumbles in Senate – “The maneuvering underscores the political peril and gamesmanship on both sides a few months after Democrats took control of Congress largely on voter dissatisfaction over the war.”

Another candidate. Giuliani Announces He’s In ’08 Presidential Race -“Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani jumped into the 2008 presidential race, filing a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission and declaring on national television last night, “I’m in this to win.”

Iran. Iran has set up 328 centrifuges, diplomats say – “Iran has set up two cascades of 164 centrifuges each in its underground nuclear plant, laying a basis for full-scale enrichment of uranium and upping the stakes in a standoff with the West,” Military action against Iran not off table, says Blair – “Tony Blair today insisted that the option of military action against Iran should not be taken “off the table” – as he issued a stern reprimand to the Tehran regime for its nuclear strategy and for fomenting unrest in the region.” Syria wants talks on Iraq– “Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview aired Monday that U.S.-Syrian cooperation was the “last chance” to stop the violence in Iraq, but he said he wasn’t optimistic that President Bush would talk to Damascus.” In Public View, Saudis Counter Iran in Region– “With the prospect of three civil wars looming over the Middle East – and Iran poised to gain from them all – Saudi Arabia has abandoned its behind-the-scenes checkbook diplomacy and taken on a central, aggressive role in reshaping the region’s conflicts.”

Op-Eds.

To Help Iraq, Let It Fend for Itself (Edward N. Luttwak, Center for Strategic and International Studies, New York Times) – “The sooner President Bush can get his extra troops for a “surge” in Iraq, the sooner he will be able to announce that all American troops are coming home because of the inevitable failure of the Iraqi government to “live up to its side of the bargain.”

A burr under apathy’s saddle (Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune) – [Molly Ivins’] “voice was that of the Southern progressive, a courageous breed of people who won my respect and admiration since the rough days of the civil rights revolution in the 1950s and ’60s. They love their home region too much to leave it alone, even when they must risk life, limb and reputation in their efforts to save it from its own worst impulses, customs and traditions.”

The War To Save The Surge (E.J.Dionne, Washington Post) -“The impatience of the administration’s critics is entirely understandable. But it would be a shame if impatience got in the way of a sensible long-term strategy to bring America’s engagement in this war to as decent an end as possible as quickly as possible — even if not as quickly as they’d like. The anti-surge resolution is a necessary first step, which is why those who are against a genuine change in our Iraq policy are fighting so hard to stop it.”

The Other Democrats Weigh In (David Broder, Washington Post) – “This campaign is starting ridiculously early, for both Democrats and Republicans. The only thing worse would be to have it end early because all but one or two people have been eliminated on each side.”

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