At a time of global economic uncertainty and rough times at home, U.S. taxpayers monies are an even more precious commodity that should not be squandered. Eliminating wasteful and inefficient foreign assistance programs is one way to cut U.S. Government spending, saving taxpayers potentially billions of dollars a year.
Our foreign assistance giving should be primarily based on U.S. national and security interests. Unfortunately, most Americans have no idea that their hard-earned money is put to use to advance the goals of international organizations, foreign countries, and left-leaning not-for-profit organizations. Tax money gets approved by the Congress, is funneled by U.S. federal agencies to these countries and groups, and a majority of the time the money is used to undermine, not bolster, U.S. interests in target countries.
In order to reform the process, Americans first need to have an idea of what is being spent and by whom. Transparency in foreign assistance is critical before any meaningful reform can be done. Last summer, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) delivered a speech at the American Enterprise Institute on transparency in foreign assistance spending. “Before you enter the political, policy or ideological battles about what our [foreign assistance] programs should look like, we need to know what our programs look like, right now,” Sen. Coburn said. This process is long overdue.
In the meantime, there are many examples of countries and entities wasting U.S. taxpayer money on programs that go against American ideals such as free enterprise and rule of law. And we do not have to go around the world to find them, we can look in our own hemisphere. It is chock full of examples of taxpayer money being wasted on programs and initiatives that go against U.S. interests. Some of these programs have been in place since the Cold War while others, such as the Millennium Challenge Corporation, are recent innovations.
On July 14, 2005, the U.S. and Nicaragua signed a Millenium Challenge Corporation Compact or contract whereby Nicaragua was to receive $174 million for a specific project. The Compact contains a roadmap on how these monies are to be used and other conditions including termination clauses. Reasons for termination of U.S. assistance includes engaging in actvity with the money that is “contrary to the national interests of the United States.” Nicaragua can also lose the money if it engages in activity that violates other U.S. laws including the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.
The Nicaraguan government has repeatedly violated its Millennium Compact with the U.S. The Congress should request that the Millennium Challenge Corporation investigate not only if the $174 million has been used properly, but should also review how the Sandinista government has engaged in activity that runs violates the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.
Nicaragua has been assisting a state sponsor of terrorism, Iran, set up shop in Central America. This runs counter to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. During the elections this past week, massive amount of voter fraud has taken place, the opposition has been locked out of the electoral processes, and people have died as a result of post-election violence. This runs counter to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. There are U.S. persons who have outstanding claims against the Nicaraguan government for properties taken without just compensation. This runs counter to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. There are many more examples of Sandinista behavior that run counter to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.
Why should U.S. taxpayers keep providing money to a country that helps Iran make a home in the Americas? Why should U.S. taxpayers be associated with a government that violates electoral laws? These and other acts of the Sandinista government work against our interests in Nicaragua and the Western Hemisphere. There are comparable examples in many other countries and regions of the world.
The foreign aid transparency efforts proposed by Members of Congress such as Sen. Coburn and others, are long overdue. A roadmap is sorely needed so that people can make sense of the intricate web of laws, regulations, and programs that make-up U.S. giving. In the example of Nicaragua, if policymakers had bothered to read closely the Foreign Assistance Act, the Compact should have never been signed to begin with until certain outstanding issues had been addressed.