When our bank accounts start to get low, we all find ways to cut back, right? We scour our budgets, look closely at our needs, and find a way to tighten our belts.
Well, that may happen in our houses, but it never happens in government. Congress continues spending, and our debt keeps growing. And the reason this happens is very simple.
You see, powerful special interests benefit immensely from the spending. And they pass some of the profits back to members of Congress in the form of campaign contributions. In a neighborhood, this might be called protection money. But in Washington, they call it a fundraiser; and it’s perfectly legal.
The Destructive Cycle
Everybody knows about the power of special interest groups at home. But it may come as a surprise that special interests have a huge stake in our foreign aid programs, too. In fact, the connection runs deeper than almost anyone knows. Let me explain.
American foreign aid is structured into two major programs. The first is food aid, and the second is called military aid.
In the U.S. food aid program, the government buys corn, soy, and other farm commodities from American farmers and then ships the foodstuffs to poor and starving villagers around the globe.
That sounds nice in theory. But the program is very damaging to poor farmers across the globe. You see, free food tends to destroy domestic markets. Why would you pay your local farmer to grow soybeans when Uncle Sam will ship them to you for free?
Because of that, the Obama administration is currently pushing a plan to reform foreign food aid. Obama wants to stop buying food from America’s farmers and start sending cash to the world’s poor instead.
But my sources on Capitol Hill tell me that Congress is going to block the reform.
You see, the sad truth is that Congress only supports food aid because farm group lobbyists occasionally drop by and hand out checks. Without the checks, why risk voting for an unpopular program (like foreign food aid) that’s going to send money away from America’s borders?
Ultimately, the power of special interests will completely stymie any efforts to revise our broken food aid program.
Putting Guns in the Wrong Hands
As I said before, the other part of America’s foreign aid is called military aid. Military aid money helps foreign governments buy weapons from America’s arms manufacturers. The money also sends American troops to teach foreign soldiers to use their new weapons.
Military aid allows the United States to get on both sides of many conflicts. For example, we supply advanced military equipment to both Israel and Egypt. The countries are fundamentally at odds, but we win either way.
Military aid occasionally gets us into a lot of trouble, too. Osama Bin Laden got his start with American guns and money. He received aid as part of a radical Islamic group in Afghanistan. Our common enemy was none other than the USSR.
With that in mind, consider our big aid push right now in Syria. We’re funding radical Islamic groups linked to Al Qaeda. Sound familiar?
Times change, and alliances come and go; but our misguided aid program continues unhindered. And why not – the military aid program works great for Congress. Military contractors are happy to deliver checks to congressmen as long as they can continue shipping guns, tanks, and aircraft abroad.
Unfortunately, we can’t expect foreign aid reform anytime soon. The aid programs are ultimately way too profitable to members of Congress, so the spending will go on unabated.
This article originally appeared at CapitolHillDaily.com and is reprinted here with permission.