|UN Reform Bill Matches Taxpayer Money to Our National Interest|
By Ashton Ellis
Wednesday, September 07 2011
With President Barack Obama continuing to send the political equivalent of a blank check to the United Nations, House Republicans are forging ahead with an ambitious bill to reform the UN by withholding funds from programs filled with waste, fraud and abuse.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the longest-serving Republican congresswoman and chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, introduced this week her UN Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act. The bill would transform the United States’ membership dues to the UN from mandatory to voluntary and reverse the practice of paying unconditionally whatever budget increases the international body demands.
Those aren’t small numbers. Currently, the U.S. is assessed 22 percent of the UN budget, by far the largest amount of any member nation. According to Brett Schaefer of the Heritage Foundation, U.S. taxpayer spending in 2010 on the UN and its affiliated programs totaled $7.692 billion, a 21 percent increase over the previous year and the third record-setting increase in a row.
Not coincidentally, those massive increases have coincided with the first three years of the Obama Administration. Much like every other White House policy, it seems that the only answer to any spending question is, “How much more can we give?”
Also of no surprise are liberal denunciations of the bill as “counterproductive” to U.S. standing at the UN.
But as Schaefer notes, similar withholding strategies have paid hefty dividends to past American governments. When Congress previously flexed its funding muscles, the UN kept budgets under control, created the Office of Internal Oversight Services, reduced U.S. assessments during the Bush Administration and established a commission to investigate the Iraqi Oil-for-Food scandal.
Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s bill is intended to provoke another UN reform: preventing the UN or any of its affiliates from recognizing Palestine as an independent state. That would be the same Palestine that is partially controlled by the terrorist organization Hamas, a group whose charter calls for the obliteration of Israel and the Jewish people.
Later this month, the UN is scheduled to vote on whether to recognize Palestinian statehood, a move that Ros-Lehtinen says is just the latest in a series of anti-Israel behavior condoned at the UN. Indeed, a UN sponsored confab in Durban, South Africa, is remembered primarily for its strident denunciations of Israel.
Ros-Lehtinen also pointed out to Newsmax that, “Everyone who hates Israel is allowed a seat at the Human Rights Council to bash Israel. It’s a staging ground for anti-U.S. and anti-Israel incitement.” The list of former Council members reads like a terrorist watch list: Libya, Sudan and North Korea, just to name a few.
Politically speaking, the geniuses at the New York-based UN couldn’t have timed their Palestine vote any worse than to occur near the ten year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. To add fiscal insult to the emotional injuries, the UN also announced a 3 percent salary increase to the 4,800 staff members living in the Big Apple. At least the pay bump drew criticism from one of Obama’s deputy ambassadors to the UN (though not, significantly, the principal delegate, Ambassador Susan Rice).
As liberals at The Huffington Post hasten to label Ros-Lehtinen’s bill as “extremist” and “irresponsible” because it dares to match American interests to American money, the congresswoman has found a reply sure to sound appealing in this era of diminished financial resources. “I say let’s change this around. It’s time we used our leverage to reform the UN, and if not we need to get our money out of there. We have a lot better uses for $7.7 billion every year.”
If you’re listening Mr. President, that sounds like a pretty good step towards real deficit reduction.
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