Override Tiffany caucus on budget, Ukraine

You would think that in a democracy majorities rule. You would be wrong. A relatively small band of right-wing Republicans in the House of Representatives is defying a big majority in both houses of Congress.

The major issues of the day are continuation of our support for Ukrainians fighting for their democracy and compromising on a federal budget to keep the government running.

The Freedom Caucus on the right wing of the GOP, which has somewhere between 33 and 46 members of the House, has pressured Speaker Mike Johnson to prevent those measures from going to the floor. About three-quarters of Americans oppose a shutdown of the federal government and support sending more arms and munitions to President Zelenskyy’s defense of Ukraine against a brutal, unprovoked invasion of his country.

On the budget, 97 Republicans in the House opposed continuation of funding for running the U.S. government, but more than 100 have favored a compromise with the Democrats to keep funding levels in place.

A majority of Republicans would also team up with Democrats to maintain our support of Ukraine’s defense. A recent poll shows 62% of Republicans in the country support Ukraine.

The hardline positions of the Freedom Caucus have been led by former President Donald Trump’s agenda as he seeks a second term. He relishes fiscal chaos at the federal level and his “America First” policies in effect support Putin’s ambitions of a restored empire.

Trump has always been a suck-up to dictators, no matter how much they violate human rights or torture and kill innocent civilians.

There is an old truism in competition that a good offense is the best defense. Almost everyone in Congress understands that, except for the Freedom Caucus.

If Putin prevails in taking over Ukraine, there can be little doubt that Poland and/or the Baltic countries will be next.

That’s why Russia’s neighbors – Finland, Sweden, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia – have been sharply building up their armed forces and weaponry. They know their brutal neighbor far better than the members of the Freedom Caucus.

Wisconsin’s House delegation includes six Republicans, most of whom listen to our leaders who are expert in foreign policy and defense. They believe in NATO, which had kept peace on the European continent for 80 years.

Only Tom Tiffany (left), a representative from Northeast Wisconsin, follows the isolationist policies of Charles Lindbergh before WWII and Donald Trump of today. Note that Tiffany has no record of military service in his biography.

Trump has never been a fan of the military, no matter what words of support come out of his mouth. He was a draft dodger several times as a young man, claiming bone spurs for his exemption. He called Marines who died in the WWI Battle of Belleau Wood in France and are buried there “suckers” and “losers.” One congressperson called him “Cadet Bone Spurs.”

For two years, Russia has bombed across all of Ukraine, killing civilian men, women and children. Therefore, there should be no limits on Ukrainian attacks into the interior of Russia. A majority in congress needs to work its will against the Freedom Caucus and Speaker Johnson to send Ukraine F-18 fighter jets, sophisticated air defense systems, the smartest drones and Apache and Blackhawk helicopters.

“National Review” magazine reports that we are replacing the F-18 Hornets with F-35 fighter jets and that we have 86 available Hornets in storage.

Providing those offensive and defensive weapons to Ukraine will not be a silver bullet to end the war, but will produce a stalemate that will deeply harm Putin politically in Russia. The GDP of NATO countries, including the U.S., far outweighs that of Russia in a war of attrition. Long wars are won by economies.

The Ukrainians have already neutralized the Russian Navy in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. Recent Russian military deaths have been put at more than 80,000, compared to a reported 31,000 Ukrainian fighters. Body bags coming home have to undermine Putin’s popularity.

Does Trump view those Ukrainian warriors as losers, too? He must, because he won’t support their defense of democracy.

In my view, a vote for Trump is a vote for Putin.\

(Torinus is a former Marine officer)

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