WASHINGTON Sen. Jack Reed says America can't afford the Republican strategy of continuing to write blank checks for the Iraq war.
"At a time when the war in Iraq costs $10 billion each month, Americans are paying $4 a gallon for gasoline, and our economy is struggling, we cannot continue down the path that President Bush and Senator McCain propose: writing blank check after blank check," Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, said Saturday in his party's weekly radio address.
Reed said Democrats have outlined a better plan to carefully redeploy combat troops out of Iraq and give them missions such as counterterrorism and training Iraq's military.
"Make no mistake: This is a plan that seizes on the progress and sacrifices our troops have made in Iraq, and it recognizes the desire of the Iraqi people to take control of their own destiny," he said.
Reed and Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska had accompanied presumed Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama on a six-day trip to Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan and Kuwait that ended this week.
Obama says he will pursue a 16-month timetable for withdrawing combat troops if he is elected. That idea won conditional support on Monday from Iraqi leaders during talks in Baghdad.
"Our proposal to responsibly redeploy American troops out of Iraq will send a message to the Iraqi government that it must do more," Reed said. "And it will encourage more progress toward Iraqi self-sufficiency."
A West Point graduate and former Army Ranger, Reed emerged as one of his party's leading anti-war voices after he voted against authorizing the war. Reed, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, is a potential vice presidential pick for Obama.
"Some of the soldiers and Marines we met in the field are on their third and fourth tours of duty," Reed said. "And they deserve a policy that is worthy of their sacrifice."