We Need A Ceiling On U.S. Aid To Ukraine
While the United States is close to reaching its federal debt ceiling and talks continue between the Biden administration and House Republican leaders, there seems to be no ceiling on the amount of financial assistance our country is providing to Ukraine. After fifteen months, the war in Ukraine continues with no end in sight.
This weekend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky traveled to the G-7 summit in Japan to solicit more military assistance for his country. Regardless of his plea, it is indisputable that the United States government has generously funded the Ukrainian war effort. Although, it can be argued that European countries should do more to support Ukraine.
In the first year of the war, assistance from the European Union toward Ukraine was only $35.3 billion, much less than what the United States contributed. This is a stark imbalance, especially since Ukraine is in Europe’s “backyard,” but is halfway around the world from the United States.
With the passage of the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill last December, total military and economic aid to Ukraine reached $113 billion. According to researchers Ben Freeman and William Hartung from the Quincy Institute, this amount exceeds the military budget of every nation in the world except the United States and China. It dwarfs the $84 billion that Russia spends annually on their miliary.
In just the first year of the war, Freeman and Hartung contend that federal aid toward Ukraine is greater than budget allocations toward “40 U.S. states.” These funds are being allocated while our country is dealing with an economic and banking crisis.
The Ukrainian border is being vigorously defended while the southern border of the United States is not secure and is being constantly breached. Some of the individuals illegally entering our country are carrying drugs, committing human trafficking, and are aligned with Mexican drug cartels, terrorist groups or intelligence agencies of hostile regimes such as China.
While the United States provides generous funding toward Ukraine, the financial situation in our country is increasingly perilous. With the country on the verge of defaulting on its debt for the first time since the War of 1812, the total national debt now approaches $31.8 trillion, which is approximately $248,000 per American taxpayer.
This reckless debt level is financially unsustainable. On January 20, 2017, the total U.S. national debt was $19.9 trillion. Due to the massive amounts of pandemic expenditures and the unlimited spending appetite of the Biden administration, the debt has increased by almost $12 trillion in the last six years.
As U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) noted, “We have more money coming into the coffers than at any time in history. The real challenge is our spending.” In a Fox News interview on Sunday, McCarthy claimed that historically federal spending has averaged 21% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Under the Biden administration the spending levels have increased to 24% of GDP.
Due to the fiscal irresponsibility of both parties, it is understandable that a new Associated Press poll shows that 63% of Americans want deficit reduction included in any debt ceiling extension. The poll also indicates that only 19% of Americans support the position of the Biden administration to increase the debt ceiling “without conditions.”
With Americans demanding spending cuts, political leaders of both parties should examine aid levels to Ukraine. A Brookings Institution poll found that only 21% of Republicans believe that current funding levels for Ukraine are “about right.” A much greater percentage of Republicans, 50%, believe that our country is spending too much in Ukraine.
Unfortunately, while that message is being echoed by President Donald Trump and GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, it is not being heard by our political leaders. In a recent news conference in Israel, McCarthy stated that he voted “for aid for Ukraine. I support aid for Ukraine….and we will continue to support [Ukraine].”
Of course, President Joe Biden also shares this view. His administration just announced that our allies would be allowed to supply F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine to be trained by Americans. This announcement was met with an ominous warning from Russia which said that it would entail “colossal risks” for Ukrainian allies.
The Biden administration is disregarding all warnings from Russia as it continues to inundate Ukraine with military and economic assistance. According to a new report, another $375 million in military aid will be shipped to Ukraine in the coming days. This funding will be in addition to the $3 billion in assistance that will be available to Ukraine due to a Defense Department “accounting error.”
Just four months ago, the Biden administration announced a major escalation of our involvement in the war in Ukraine by promising the Zelensky government an additional $400 million in aid, including 31 Abrams M1 tanks.
While all this military funding and equipment has been flowing to Ukraine, the readiness of the United States military has been compromised. One result of our obsession with Ukraine has been the weapons stockpiles in our country have decreased to “dangerously low levels.”
Despite jeopardizing our financial wellbeing and sacrificing our military readiness with the enormous aid being given to Ukraine, President Zelensky wants allied countries to do much more. In fact, he is demanding that all Western nations dedicate 1% of their total GDP toward the Ukrainian war effort.
Sadly, despite the massive infusion of Western assistance, the war in Ukraine may not end anytime soon. So, American taxpayers will be asked to continue to fund this effort for the foreseeable future, even though there are allegations of substantial fraud.
According to investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, at least $400 million in Ukrainian assistance has been “embezzled” by top government officials and military leaders. Hersh contends that the funds have been used “to buy luxury cars and fund ostentatious lifestyles.”
A much more rigorous accounting of U.S. aid to Ukraine is the least that can be done for American taxpayers, who are increasingly questioning the wisdom of these policies.
Jeff Crouere is a native New Orleanian and his award-winning program, “Ringside Politics,” airs Saturdays from Noon until 1 p.m. CT nationally on Real America’s Voice TV Network & AmericasVoice.News and weekdays from 7-11 a.m. CT on WGSO 990-AM & Wgso.com. He is a political columnist, the author of America’s Last Chance and provides regular commentaries on the Jeff Crouere YouTube channel and on Crouere.net. For more information, email him at [email protected].