Thursday, April 12, 2007

Memo From Rahm Emanuel to House Democrats

   From TPM once again.

   We have a letter from Rahm Emanuel ( chairman of the House Democratic caucus ) telling the House Democrats to stay on Bush's ass when it comes to the troop/war funding battle that is ongoing with White House war profiteers. Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the House could probably use some letters of encouragement from us out here in the fields.

Emanuel's full memo:

To: Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Majority Whip James Clyburn, Caucus Vice Chairman John Larson

From: House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel

Date: April 11, 2007

Re: Status of the Debate over the Iraq Supplemental

As we return from the district work period, the Congress continues to have an historic opportunity to change direction in Iraq, protect and provide for American troops, and pressure Iraqis to take responsibility for their own country.

We find ourselves in a strong position because the American people support our policy objectives and our plan for Iraq, especially as they measure up against the failures of the administration’s policies. As we continue through the process of sending an Iraq spending bill to the President for his approval, we need to go beyond the debate about the funding for the war, and remind the American people of the policies we are recommending -- benchmarks for the Iraqis, support for our troops through training and equipment, and a plan for a responsible and strategic redeployment of our troops. It is also important that we remind the country of the policy position of Congressional Republicans on Iraq – their rubberstamping of the President’s Iraq policies, and their refusal to conduct responsible oversight.

This memorandum summarizes the current state of play on the Iraq supplemental, and the steps we must continue to take in the coming weeks to convey our message and position to the American people.

Where We Stand

President Bush has continued to demand Congress provide him with a blank check for an open-ended commitment of American troops in Iraq. Democrats and the American people agree that we must change direction in Iraq by providing our troops with the resources and protection they need, while planning for a strategic and responsible redeployment of US troops. Meanwhile, the President believes his attempts to ratchet up political pressure about funding the troops will persuade members of our caucus to abandon their support for the Democratic bill that changes direction in Iraq.

Although he is not saying anything new, the President's recent efforts have generated significant news coverage, but polling shows his efforts have done little to bolster his claims or generate support for his plan from the American people. Instead, the President remains incredibly weak and at odds with public opinion. Despite the attacks from the White House, nearly 70% of the American people continue to support our plan for a new direction in Iraq and a responsible, strategic redeployment of American troops over the course of the next year.

Americans Support the Democratic Plan: A Polling Update

The President and his stay the course plan are increasingly unpopular. A Time Magazine poll released a little more than a week ago found that, when given a choice, 68% of Americans endorsed a proposal to withdraw combat troops compared to 28% who favored maintaining troops in Iraq “as long as needed until the Iraqis can handle the situation themselves.” This is a clear comparison between our plan, which the American people overwhelmingly support, and the President’s plan.

Americans Oppose President Bush and His Plan for an Open-Ended Commitment of U.S. Troops in Iraq

Not surprisingly, the country continues to strongly oppose President Bush's efforts to further escalate the war in Iraq. Polling conducted by Newsweek confirms that 64% of Americans, including 62% of independents, oppose the escalation of the war. The fact that the President is changing the goalposts on the American people – now claiming the surge has only just begun, and calling up more troops even though we are three months into the escalation – and his efforts to abandon his own benchmarks for the Iraqi people only serve to frustrate the American people even more.

Bush’s job performance rating also continues to languish – he has remained at or below 35% for more than a year and is showing no signs of improvement. His approval rating streak is now in the ballpark of Richard Nixon’s in the months leading up to his resignation.

Going Forward

As we move forward, we should not lose sight of the fact that nearly 70% of the country supports our plan for Iraq. The country is more engaged in this issue than any other, and has paid close attention to the plans offered by Democrats and the President. The country has made a conscious decision to support our approach. With that support at our backs, Democrats must:

* Continue to pressure the President to negotiate with Congressional leaders on the Iraq supplemental spending bill.

* Highlight the President's stay-the-course, status quo strategy for Iraq

* Highlight the President's willingness to provide Iraq with an open-ended commitment of U.S. troops

* Emphasize the President now walking away from the benchmarks he laid out in his January speech.

* Remind the country that Congressional Republicans are willing to rubberstamp the President’s stay-the-course policies but have no plan of their own for Iraq.

Negotiating with the President While the Republicans Lack a Plan

Given the Republicans' unwillingness to offer their own alternative or plan for funding our troops and changing direction in Iraq, Democrats must remain resolute while publicly urging the President to join us for meaningful negotiations on the supplemental. While we will never reject out of hand any offer from the President to meet and discuss the supplemental, we must insist on meaningful negotiations with the White House.

Indeed, meaningful negotiation can and should move us toward a new direction in Iraq. While there are significant differences between the President and Democrats, there are areas of agreement that should offer fertile ground for negotiation and compromise. Like the President, Democrats are committed to ensuring our troops have the resources they need to succeed. The major difference is that Democrats believe the Iraqi people must meet the strategic benchmarks the President outlined in early January, while the President has walked away from those benchmarks.

If the President continues to reject these efforts to negotiate, his unwillingness to meet with Democrats and continued insistence on a blank check for the war will only further damage his standing with the American people

Highlighting the President's Mismanagement of Iraq

As we seek to negotiate with the President, Democrats must also continue to highlight the impact of the President's chronic mismanagement of the war in Iraq. The most important facets of this mismanagement are the two positions the President has taken in direct opposition to the will of the American people: 1) his willingness to provide Iraq with an open-ended commitment of U.S. troops as the violence in Iraq gets worse every day; and 2) his abandonment of the benchmarks the Iraqis need to meet to take responsibility for their own country.

Additionally, we must continue our oversight on a series of issues including the use of taxpayer dollars in Iraq and troop and veterans' health care. This aggressive oversight is necessary to improve health care for troops and veterans and discover how taxpayer dollars have been misused. Democrats pledged to bring accountability to Washington in the 2006 campaign and the American people support our efforts to keep that promise and conduct real oversight.

* * *

    That is right Democrats. Get Up and Be Somebody!



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