One month ago today, millions of Americans voted to reject big-government and the backroom deals that defined the Obama presidency. Now, some of the same Senate Republicans who rode that momentum to electoral victory appear to be on the verge of ignoring that message by striking a deal to trade passage of the dangerous New START treaty for an extension of the current tax rates.
To be crystal clear, we will view any deal on the extension of the current tax rates followed by Senate consideration of the New START Treaty, during this Lame Duck session of Congress, as the worst kind of quid pro quo.
Recent backroom deals like the Cornhusker Kickback, Louisiana Purchase and Gator-Aid were met with ridicule and disgust on November 2nd. But this shady deal is far, far worse. It is unthinkable that any Senator, let alone any who claim to be conservative, would use our national security as a bargaining chit.
Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) is acting as the key negotiator for Senate Republicans on both the nuclear treaty and the Obama tax hikes. To borrow a metaphor from the President, Senator Kyl is driving this car and he and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) should convince their fellow members to throw it in reverse.
For months, The Heritage Foundation has articulated serious and substantive policy concerns surrounding this treaty. We have explained, in detail, how the treaty limits our missile defense capability, why the verification provisions are inadequate and what restrictions are placed on our non-nuclear weapons – all to the great detriment to our ability to defend ourselves in an increasingly dangerous world.
During the past couple weeks, news reports suggest our concerns were well founded. America has learned the Russians were moving tactical nuclear weapons closer to our NATO allies. Senators learned that Secretaries Gates and Clinton were less than forthcoming when it came to a side deal on missile defense. And further press reports suggest more damaging information may be forthcoming.
Yet, despite all these new questions and many unanswered questions, Senate Republicans appear headed toward a deal. We at The Heritage Foundation obviously do not support raising taxes, and we do hope the Senate reaches an agreement to keep the current rates in place, but that debate should in no way be tied to ratification of the New START Treaty.
The case against the New START Treaty is built on principle, not politics. If Senate Republicans continue down this path, they will lose the goodwill of conservatives around the country and justify the skepticism of the American people.