the World with Your Money
Challenge Act, a new foreign aid scheme I wrote about back in May, received its
hoped-for $2.5 billion from Congress last week.
Only 41 members of Congress supported an effort to strip the funding,
demonstrating once again that the two parties are not serious about reducing
federal spending. Considering all
the rhetoric in Washington about runaway spending, one would think a new foreign
welfare program would be among the easiest things to cut politically.
foreign aid programs began in earnest decades ago, tens of billions of US tax
dollars have been given to nations around the globe.
The utter failure of this money to change things for the better in those
nations is no longer in question; even the most earnest liberals are beginning
to admit the obvious. Most of the
recipient nations remain endlessly mired in poverty, political and legal
corruption, and cultural malaise.
A rational person
would argue that failed aid programs should be eliminated.
In Washington, however, failed programs get more money thrown at them.
Challenge Act is designed to appease fiscal conservatives and defense hawks by
appearing to single out friendly, well-behaved nations for aid payments,
ostensibly creating a carrot-and-stick approach.
But the Act merely puts a shiny new label on the same old failed policy
of trying to remake the world using welfare.
Welfare has never worked at home and it’s never worked abroad, no
matter what “incentives” Congress tries to attach.
The proponents of the
Millennium Challenge Act tell us this time it will be different.
If only we condition foreign aid money on the adoption of certain
policies, the recipient nations will clean up their acts.
Market economies and democratic political reforms surely will follow, if
only American taxpayers provide a little seed money.
Does anyone actually
believe this? It is beyond presumptuous to think Congress can change the
politics, economies, and cultures of foreign nations. It is simply preposterous to imagine that foreign aid will be
cut off once given, no matter what a nation does or fails to do.
After all, we’ve been giving billions to some of our worst enemies for
decades. Once a federal program
begins, it becomes permanent. Mark
my words, the Millennium Challenge Act budget will grow in future years.
The question nobody
in Washington wants to answer is this: What gives the Congress the right to send
American tax dollars overseas in the first place?
Certainly not the Constitution. Why
should American taxpayers, many of whom are poor themselves, be expected to fund
foreign welfare? Remember that the
poorest Americans are hardest hit by the inflation tax, which is the direct
result of deficit spending and the printing of new money to service federal
Congress hardly needs
to concoct another way to spend money. Government
debt already exceeds seven trillion dollars, and runaway spending will force yet
another increase in the federal debt ceiling law before the end of the year.
At its current pace, Congress soon will create single-year deficits of
one trillion dollars. Combine this indebtedness with future liabilities- in the
form of exploding Social Security and Medicare obligations- and it’s clear
that Congress can find better things to do with $2.5 billion than send it
My very modest
proposal is this: eliminate the Millennium Challenge Act, apply half the money
to the national debt, and spend the rest domestically if Congress simply can’t
bear to give it back to taxpayers. Even
the worst domestic program is better than useless and meddlesome foreign aid.