Ron Paul's Texas Straight Talk - A weekly Column

October 4, 1999

Confused priorities
President vetoes tax cuts to spend more overseas

Just two weeks ago the president vetoed a modest tax-cut provision that would have been most helpful to small business owners, farmers and middle-income Americans. In vetoing the measure, the president said it was simply too large a tax cut, that the government couldn't afford to "give-up" that money. This week we found out what he wanted done with that money: spend it, but not in America.

Of course, the first fallacy is in suggesting that a tax cut is cost. When someone criticizes a tax cut as "costing too much," they are revealing a basic belief in the tenets of socialism, where all wealth is created by, and belongs to, the government. A tax cut is allowing a productive individual to keep his own money; it does not cost anyone anything. In fact, the only "costs" in the tax system are the taxes levied on individuals.

The tax package included what was a minor proposal that would have been a great benefit to people in agriculture. The measure would have allowed farmers and ranchers to set aside pre-tax income in special savings accounts to use in bad years. Such accounts would have granted agriculture the ability to extricate itself from the whims of Washington bureaucrats and politicians.

When the president vetoed the tax package, he killed farmers' hopes for this much-needed tool. Apparently he instead wants that money to be spent propping up foreign dictatorships and subsidizing our competitors.

This past week, the president was threatening to veto the $12.6 billion foreign aid bill proposed by the House and Senate. Not, of course, because it was too much, but not nearly as much as he wanted.

This measure is actually another increase in spending for items that are both unconstitutional and immoral. The Constitution does not grant the federal government the power to tax Americans so that foreign governments can be subsidized. Even if one could find such a power in the Constitution, it still should not be exercised, as it is reprehensible that a single working mother should struggle to make ends meet while being involuntarily taxed to subsidize the newest government in an unstable region.

These programs assisted in the rise of leaders as Saddam Hussein, Carlos Salinas, Gen Augusto Pinochet and Osma bin Laden.

In addition, the president wants even more of Americans' money to spent in so-called "peacekeeping" operations, like those in Somalia and Bosnia, which recklessly place American soldiers in harms' way for reasons other than national defense.

But worse, the president's idea of foreign aid would use American dollars to actually subsidize the foreign competition of American farmers. The president announced Wednesday he wants to cancel competing countries' debt to the United States -- amounting to a $3.5 billion loss for the taxpayers -- from loans we made through government operations, such as the Export-Import Bank. Further, his administration is participating in a $27 billion debt forgiveness initiative by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, of which U.S. taxpayers are principle stakeholders.

It is unconscionable that while our president refuses to allow Americans to keep just slightly more of what they earn, he is committed to spending billions of American dollars overseas. While there is no constitutional justification for these ill-conceived foreign expenditures, the reasons -- constitutional and moral -- abound for ensuring Americans keep what they earn.

Debates over spending and taxes reveal much about who we are as individuals and as a nation. Sadly, spending by the government remains out of control and taxes are too high. And that our priorities are sorely out of line is demonstrated by the fact that our president and his allies would subsidize abortions in distant lands with taxes generated by the sweat of farmers, rather than allow Americans to provide for themselves and their families.