Ron Paul's Texas Straight Talk - A weekly Column

November 8, 1999

Time to Change Priorities
Ending involvement in NATO would provide tax cut opportunity and boost health care, education

Soon, the Congressional Leadership is expected to reach a so-called "compromise" with President Clinton on spending issues, and then exit for the year. But, this week Congress took up many frivolous "suspension bills." We're now in that stage when stacks of bad legislation get enacted as Congress lingers before adjourning for the year.

Unfortunately, in this week's legislative package was a bill expressing support for continued US involvement in NATO. Although simply a "sense of Congress resolution," the fact that only 133 Representatives voted "no" says so much about the problem we face today.

Members of Congress and the Administration have been unable to reach a consensus on critical issues like truly protecting the integrity of our trust funds such as Social Security. Moreover, Congress has been unable, particularly in light of the strong opposition from the President and Democrats in Congress, to reach agreement on cutting the taxes of all Americans.

So many of our current problems can be remedied by returning to the American public the needed resources to allow you to make the choices that will improve education and health care. And, through tax cuts, we can address problems of basic fairness. For example, it is simply immoral when a person dies that the first concern facing his or her descendants is how to handle an IRS agent breathing down their necks looking to collect Uncle Sam's share of the estate.

But, instead of working to end the estate tax, or keep our promises with Social Security, or insuring patient choice through medical savings accounts, we waste our time on low priority items. And, instead of looking to our nation's future, like giving parents a true choice in education by providing them with a battery of education-related tax credits, we have two thirds in Congress voting to support continued and expanded participation in a cold war relic.

I have never been in favor of the foreign aid giveaway that is NATO. Frankly, the entanglement in European affairs so central to this organization runs completely contrary to the ideas of our nation's founders. These brave men understood that freedom cannot survive within the confines of a centralized state. How much worse then is the fate of American liberty when the arms of government are so extended that they reach, not simply to every nook and cranny of our own nation, but also to cover much of the globe as well?

What we must do is return our government to its rightful and constitutional functions, and the best way to begin that process is to end involvement in multilateral organizations that extend our commitments far and wide. We have no business making commitments to foreign governments while we are breaking trust with our own nation's senior citizens, military veterans, and taxpayers in general.

Institutions like NATO are among the very worst of the global bureaucracies that always seem to continue to exist in search of a problem. The Soviet Union is no longer a force in the world, still NATO goes on, in search of a mission. And worse still, rather than finding problems to solve, it rather ends up creating new problems. This year, the NATO alliance conducted its first offensive war, involving itself in the internal affairs of a nation that neither attacked nor threatened any member of NATO. This, of course, violated the NATO treaty. As long as we continue to delegate matters of foreign affairs to our President and international bureaucrats worldwide, these problems will continue, and indeed worsen.

As is so often the case, process is linked with policy. Until we relearn the lessons of the founders, and understand the need to decentralize government, we'll continue to spend untold amounts on bombs, weapons and maintaining troops overseas. Only when we prioritize commitments to our own people will we begin the process of repairing our education and health care systems, and keeping our commitments to America's seniors and taxpayers.