By Rudy Barnes, Jr.
The Pandemic helped produce a $33 Trillion national debt. Rather than reducing that massive debt, President Biden has increased it with promises of $105 Billion in foreign aid to Ukraine and Israel. Reason and common sense should make U.S. solvency a political priority, but economic caution was thrown to the wind in new commitments for aid to Ukraine and Israel.
With Mike Johnson the new leader of the House, America now has a functioning Congress to consider those commitments. Until the Israeli-Hamas War began, aid to Ukraine to counter Putin’s aggression tested the economic limits of American foreign aid, but now Biden’s announced $105 billion combined aid to Israel and Ukraine threatens the U.S. economy.
America’s massive national debt is paid off with bonds, and interest rates on those bonds have been steadily rising. Increasing interest on the national debt will displace critical budgetary expenditures like social security and Medicare; and printing new dollars to pay for increasing expenditures would weaken the value of the dollar.
In 1992, James Carville famously said: In politics “It’s all about the economy, stupid”; and that political priority hasn’t changed. Congress has always debated economic priorities, but Republicans shut down a functioning Congress and left America with its largest national debt since WWII. Now It’s up to Congress to restore reason to America’s economy.
We become our own worst enemies if we make financial commitments we cannot keep. America hasn’t faced insolvency since the Great Depression; and if not for the devastation of WWII, America would not have had the lucrative post-war markets that sustained its economy since then. America needs to acknowledge its current economic limits before it’s too late.
Israel and Ukraine are both democracies, but they have little moral equivalence. Israel has the military power to destroy Hamas, while Russia has the power to destroy Ukraine. Netanyahu’s policies focus on his political power, while Zelensky must appease allies in NATO. Congress must consider those factors in deciding how much aid should go to each nation.
CNN has described the aid drama “as the latest failure of American governance”. Biden made a mistake giving Netanyahu a blank check after the Hamas terrorist attack, but has since conditioned U.S. aid on “more humanitarian aid and more protections for Palestinian civilians in Gaza--“or else there will be no partners for peace."
It’s now up to Congress to determine how much aid goes to Israel and Ukraine. In the past, religious beliefs and conflicting moral standards of political legitimacy have polarized partisan politics; but the mandates of national security and the danger of economic disaster should now cause Congress to put reason over partisan politics and produce a consensus for aid to Ukraine and Israel. Otherwise, like the Marines, Americans will all go down together.
On the effect of rising interest rates on bonds, see Get ready for more US debt sticker shock as Wall Street sees a bigger wave of Treasurys flooding the bond market at https://finance.yahoo.com/news/ready-more-us-debt-sticker-204501804.html.
On Biden drawing a direct link between Putin and Hamas on aid to both Ukraine and Israel, see https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/oct/20/joe-biden-tv-address-to-nation-oval-office-speech-vladimir-putin-hamas-aid-for-israel-ukraine.
While Israel and Ukraine are both democracies facing existential threats, there is little moral equivalence between aid for the two nations. Congress must separate Biden’s link between aid for both nations and ensure that the total does not threaten the U.S. economy. See https://time.com/6329637/israel-hamas-war-netanyahu-strategy/?utm_medium=email&utm.
CNN has described the Israel aid drama as the latest failure of American governance, and contentious partisan debate on aid to Israel “is painting exactly the kind of picture of American dysfunction that adversaries like China and Russia leverage in their attempts to weaken US power. Biden has already vowed to veto the current House bill in the unlikely event it ever reaches him. The aid debate is also exposing the huge rift inside the Republican Party over foreign policy between Make America Great Again isolationists and the old school establishment that still advocates robust global leadership through alliances that helped secure global peace since World War II. Johnson’s maneuvering – in loading down the Israel bill with political priorities and separating it from Ukraine funding – has created a rift with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a staunch conservative, but who is closer to Biden than his own party in the House on the issue. ‘Over and over again, history has taught us that the costs of disengaging from the world are far higher than the costs of engaging,’ McConnell said Wednesday. ‘As foolish as it is to deny the clear link between America’s adversaries and the threats we face, it’s every bit as dangerous to pretend that as a global superpower, our nation could not or should not face each of them down.’ As McConnell suggested, the related showdown over aid to Ukraine is also exposing the chasm inside the GOP and showcasing the broader question of whether the United States and its people are prepared to continue to be a bulwark for global democracy. This is a question at the core of a possible general election clash between Biden, an internationalist whose worldview was forged in the Cold War, and former President Donald Trump, a transactional leader who views alliances more as protection rackets than multipliers of American global power. The fundamental question at issue on Ukraine is whether the US will continue to stand for the independence of a country whose right to exist is being threatened by a ruthless invasion planned in the Kremlin. Johnson told Fox News last week that the US shouldn’t abandon Ukraine to Putin.” See Israel aid drama is the latest failure of American governance at https://www.cnn.com/2023/11/02/politics/israel-aid-drama-congress. See also https://apnews.com/article/house-israel-aid-ukraine-republicans-biden-gaza-b7bfe528b12ac5954cfd5c034f11320d.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has added a new condition to US aid to Israel, saying that “more humanitarian aid and more protections to protect Palestinian civilians are needed in Gaza, or else there will be ‘no partners for peace.’" See https://www.cbsnews.com/news/israel-war-hamas-blinken-gaza/.By Rudy Barnes, Jr., November 4, 2023