July 23, 2001
Congress Sends Billions Overseas
Congress recently plunged headlong into its summer appropriations period, making decisions about how to spend nearly two trillion dollars in 2002. Every year, Congress considers 13 massive appropriations bills that fund the federal government, and every year I'm amazed by the staggering amounts spent. The real problem, of course, is that so much of the spending funds agencies and programs not authorized in the Constitution. I especially object to foreign aid spending, which clearly is unconstitutional under the enumerated powers clause. In short, Congress has zero authority to send your tax dollars overseas, and the Founders would be dismayed by the extent of our intervention in the affairs of foreign nations. Yet few in Congress or the media ever question the wisdom of sending literally billions of U.S. tax dollars overseas.
Last week Congress approved two separate appropriations measures that fund the State department and various foreign operations. Both are replete with foreign aid spending that either fails to achieve policy goals or actually harms American interests. The carrot-and-stick approach to foreign policy never works; we only end up with dependent allies and increasingly hostile enemies (who resent our failure to fund them). The State department bill contained nearly $1.7 billion in UN funding; $844 million for U.S. dues payments, and $850 million for so-called "peacekeeping"operations, which really are acts of war. I offered amendments to block this UN funding, which were supported by more than 60 of my colleagues. However, far more support is needed to end U.S. taxpayer funding of that most anti-American organization.
The foreign operations bill similarly sends a whopping $15.2 billion overseas. Here are just a few examples of how your money is being spent:
It's ironic that Congress is sending more money abroad even as the U.S. economy limps toward recession. Those foreign aid dollars should have been returned to taxpayers to spend, save, invest, or donate to charity. In the fight against big government, we should start by demanding that Congress abide by the Constitution and stop sending U.S. taxpayer funds overseas.
- $2.8 billion for Israel, and $2 billion for Egypt. Our ongoing aid to both Israel and various PLO countries only serves to intensify the conflict in the region. U.S. money has been instrumental in the incredible militarization of Israel. Why are we fanning the flames of this ancient conflict?
- $676 million to continue the failed drug war in Colombia. Time and time again, we have seen our drug interdiction escalate violence in Latin American countries. Our military aid could easily spark a war.
- $768 million for the former Soviet republics, which are politically unstable and armed with the nuclear arsenal of the USSR.
- $600 million for Bosnia, Serbia, and Kosovo, despite the failure of our previous UN-led intervention in the region.
- $90 million for electric power plant construction in North Korea. Why are we building power plants for brutal communist dictatorships?
- Millions for Iraq, Cambodia, and Sudan, all of which have oppressive governments. Do we really think the citizens will get the money?
- $1.4 billion for the IMF and World Bank, which simply make bad loans to questionable governments at U.S. taxpayer expense.
- $753 million for the Export-Import Bank, which subsidizes big U.S. corporations by giving risky loans to foreign buyers of American exports, again at the expense of taxpayers.