Kyl Links Tax Cut Vote To Nuclear Weapons

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) said today that President Obama must reach a deal on extending the Bush tax cuts by Monday if a nuclear arms treaty has a chance of passing the Senate by the end of the year. The Hill reports on Kyl’s willingness to hold the nuclear security of the United States hostage in order to pass the tax cuts for rich:

Kyl said if negotiators don’t reach a deal on the Bush taxes within a week “then you’re not going to have time to do START”… The emerging conventional wisdom has been that Senate Republicans would agree to ratify START if Obama and Democratic leaders agreed to a temporary extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts.

Through this latest maneuver, Kyl has demonstrated that nothing is more important to the Senate GOP than tax cuts for the richest Americans, not even the nuclear security of the United States. An exasperated GOP Aide even told the National Review “the two are completely unrelated.”

Delay of New START would likely mean its death and would almost certainly lead to: a rapid deterioration in US-Russian relations; the fraying of the sanctions coalition against Iran; jeopardizing supply routes for troops in Afghanistan; and as Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned yesterday, it would lead to a new nuclear arms race. The collapse of this modest treaty would have immodest results.

Kyl, in fact, likely knows the implications. He has never outwardly opposed the treaty, and on Meet the Press this past Sunday, he refused to attack it. In the past he was supportive of START. Kyl appears to have just been trying to stall the treaty to deny Obama a perceived political victory.

After Kyl signaled that he would obstruct the treaty earlier this month, the entire top brass of the US military, and a who’s who of Republican foreign policy leaders (including Colin Powell today), as well as the editorial boards of more than 40 newspapers across the country, ripped Kyl directly for trying to obstruct the treaty and for putting politics above nuclear security.

Kyl and Senate Republicans now appear to have backed down and seem supportive of a START vote in the lame duck. But instead of just allowing a vote to go through and approaching the treaty and US national security as something above the standard political games of domestic politics, Kyl is willing to potentially risk nuclear security so people making over $250,000 get a tax cut.