Republicans and Foreign Aid

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Two former Republican members of Congress have joined with a former congressional Democrat to introduce a new proposal to reform foreign aid. That is, they have conspired together to further loot American taxpayers.

Former Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and former Representatives Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) are honorary co-chairs of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network. Lugar was twice chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Berman was once chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

As the three former congressmen write in “The Unfinished Business of Foreign Aid Reform,” beginning in 2008,

the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) sought to reform a foreign aid system that was badly outdated and poorly equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century. MFAN offered a set of core principles and priority actions for making foreign assistance more effective, more efficient, and better at serving our national interests. Their ideas inspired each of us to engage in foreign aid reform from our individual leadership positions within and outside of Congress.

MFAN has now “reconstituted itself,” and issued “its vision of the future of foreign aid, and its recommendations for the next steps to get there.” The 8-page document is called “The Way Forward: A Reform Agenda for 2014 and Beyond.” These two statements from the document can serve as a summary:

U.S. foreign assistance remains indispensible [sic]. Aid is a strong expression of U.S. moral, economic, and national security imperatives, and advances all three.

As a global standard-bearer and the world’s largest single donor, the U.S. should lead reforms in policy and innovations in practice to catalyze change and achieve sustainable results.

So basically, although U.S. foreign aid should be reformed, it should continue.

Current Republicans in the U.S. House agree. At the end of 2012, the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2012 (H.R.3159) was passed by a vote of 390-0. This mean that every Republican in the Republican-controlled House voted for it (Ron Paul did not vote). The bill “directs the President to establish guidelines regarding the establishment of measurable goals, performance metrics, and monitoring and evaluation plans for U.S. foreign assistance.” It requires such guidelines to “provide direction to federal departments and agencies that administer U.S. foreign assistance relating to resource monitoring, project and program evaluation, and analysis of findings and generalizations and their applicability to proposed project and program design.” The bill failed to pass the Senate, and was reintroduced in the current Congress as the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2013 (H.R.2638).

So again, although U.S. foreign aid should be reformed, it should continue.

Senate Republicans like foreign aid as well. Conservative darling and Tea Party favorite Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) pushed for more foreign aid in a speech late last year at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. He then defended “robust” foreign aid at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting while criticizing China for only sending “modest aid” for victims of a typhoon in the Philippines. Earlier last year, a majority of Senate Republicans voted against Senator Rand Paul’s proposal to strip Egypt of its foreign aid. Earlier this year Senate Republicans helped pass a bill to give a $1 billion aid package to Ukraine. Most recently, Senator Paul introduced a bill (S.2265) that would halt “all U.S. aid to the Palestinian government until they agree to a ceasefire and recognize the right of Israel to exist.” This is a bill that even the most ardent Republican supporters of foreign aid in the Senate could support.

This is because Senate Republicans believe that although U.S. foreign aid should be reformed, it should continue.

This attitude is no different from Republican support for foreign aid under one of their own, George W. Bush. In 2002, Bush proposed “a three-year, $5 billion increase in American foreign aid to poor nations that support human rights, adhere to strong systems of law and have open markets.” The promise of aid was to be “contingent on the recipients’ undertaking a broad range of economic, political and social reforms.” If President Obama can be called the “food stamp president,” then President Bush can certainly be called the “foreign aid president.” By 2008, Carol Lancaster could write in George Bush’s Foreign Aid: Transformation or Chaos?: “Over the past seven years, the Bush administration has launched a transformation of U.S. foreign aid. No time since the administration of President John F. Kennedy has seen more changes in the volume of aid, in aid’s purposes and policies, in its organization, and in its overall status in U.S. foreign policy.” Spending on foreign aid practically doubled during the Bush years.

This is because Bush and both Houses of Congress that had a Republican majority for over half the time that he was president—just like Republicans in Congress under Obama—believe that although U.S. foreign aid should be reformed, it should continue.

According to “Foreign Assistance Fast Facts: FY2012,” issued by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), during fiscal year 2012, seventeen agencies of the federal government funded foreign economic assistance activities to 182 countries, 48 of which were in Sub-Saharan Africa. The foreign aid budget for fiscal year 2012 was $48.4 billion. Afghanistan received the most aid—$12.9 billion, surpassing even Israel.

This means that Republicans—while feigning obeisance to the Constitution and reciting their mantra of free enterprise, private property, and limited government—gave away to foreign governments, NGOs, privileged foreign contractors, and crony capitalists in the United States that benefit from U.S. foreign aid spending almost $50 billion confiscated from American taxpayers. Republicans did something that violates the Constitution, is the opposite of free enterprise, takes private property from Americans, and increases the size of government.

And Republicans call themselves the party of the Constitution?

And many conservatives think that Republicans are philosophically different from Democrats?

And many libertarians consider Republicans to be the lesser of two evils?

Foreign aid is simply the looting of American taxpayers. It doesn’t matter where the money goes, how much is spent, what the terms are, or what the supposed benefits are.

I don’t vote. And especially for Republicans. But if I did vote, and in the unlikely event I decided to clamp my nose in a vise and vote Republican, I could never vote for a Republican who favored taking money from Americans and giving it to governments of, and organizations in, countries that most Americans couldn’t find on a map and in some cases have never even heard of.

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