GOP on START: Side Dish of Lard With That Pork, Please

At Wonk Room on Think Progress Max Bergmann wrote a commentary on how Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is shepherding Republican obstructionism on the passage of the new START. As you may have heard, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry felt compelled to delay the scheduled START ratification vote. You may have also heard McConnell’s disarming comment:

“All they have to do is find enough money to satisfy Senator Kyl. … In my view they need to do that, because without that I think the chances of ratification are pretty slim.”

What, Bergmann wonders aloud, does McConnell’s statement tell us? First, he explains, it:

“. . . clearly indicates that support for START is all about whether Kyl is satisfied with nuclear modernization funding. [Even though] the Administration has already pushed through a massive 15% increase. Yet Kyl and his colleagues are demanding more. [Senator] Corker’s chief interest, for instance, is the Uranium Processing Facility in Oak Ridge, TN, which Corker seemingly arbitrarily determined needs between $4-$5 billion, well above the projected $1.4-$3.5 billion that the facility’s own contractor projects.”

“Side dish of lard with that pork, please.” Also, writes Bergmann:

“. . . it’s a massive slap in the face of Richard Lugar [Think Lugar-Nunn Act for rounding up loose Soviet nukes. -- RW] and shows the far-right direction the Senate GOP has taken. McConnell’s interview basically says if Kyl is given what he wants than everyone will fall into line. But there is no mention of Richard Lugar who is a strong supporter of the treaty. This demonstrates where the ideological direction the GOP is headed. McConnell neglects (and seemingly rejects) his party’s foremost authority on nuclear weapons issues in the Senate, in favor of the far right approach of Kyl. … It also shows how impotent Lugar is in influencing his colleagues.”

Not only has Senator Lugar been elbowed aside, but national security as well. Bergmann again:

“When Anthony Wiener went ballistic on the floor of the House because House Republicans refused to vote for health care funding for 9-11 workers, it exposed the do nothing obstructionist bent of the GOP even when it comes to 9-11. Similarly, the one thing you would hope the GOP wouldn’t mess with is nuclear stability. Yet without the New START treaty in place the US military is rapidly losing its knowledge of and intelligence about the Russian nuclear arsenal because since the original START treaty expired last December the US no longer has boots on the ground monitoring what Russia is doing with its nuclear weapons.”

Republicans, and hawks in general, like to congratulate themselves for looking at the big picture and far down the road. In other words, they’re willing to sacrifice security in the short-term — such as attacks from terrorists we’ve created through heavy-handed policies, aiding and abetting an Israeli attack on Iran, even missile defense prompting preemptive nuclear strikes — for policies that they think will make us safer in the long term. A few billion for their constituents doesn’t hurt either.