The bill that provided about $100 billion in new war funding passed with bipartisan majorities last Thursday and included the following non war-related things:
1. A minimum wage increase from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour over two years - a long overdue raise for millions of working families.
2. Provides long overdue assistance to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita victims.
3. Boosts veterans' and troops health care and benefits programs by nearly $5 billion.
4. Establishes some lobbying and campaign finance disclosure reform.
5. Provides $393 million for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP)
In the spirit of compromise, and to help get funding for the war, Republicans voted for things they, on the whole, have never supported.
So some questions: Are these important items just a ruling-class bribe for the people to accept the war that nearly 7 in 10 of us oppose and which is killing thousands every month? Or, are Democrats using a situation they cannot yet win to leverage domestic gains from an obstinate president and the shamefully docile Republicans who otherwise would refuse to accept?
Either way, should Congress use this leverage to continue to strong arm Republicans into voting for things like the Employee Free Choice Act, new health care programs and funding, better Medicare and Social Security benefits, lower student loan interest rates, Rx drug re-importation, stronger global warming protections and better CAFE standards, the Employment Non-discrimination Act, anti-hate crimes legislation, the Equal Rights Amendment, real funding for public education and reversal of anti-schools provisions in the so-called No Child Left Behind Act, and so on?
Just how far will Bush and the Republicans go to keep their war on?
Some people might say that I may be suggesting using an imperialist war to win gains (or bribe) the working class.
There is another way to look at it, however.
Can the Democrats use a progressive agenda to leverage an end to the war? The Republicans might not help end the war to save lives, but they might bring it to a screeching halt if they think a think their tax cuts are on the line. Let me know.