Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) called for completely eliminating foreign aid on a conservative radio show over the weekend, arguing that doing so would help fix the budget deficit.
Appearing on the Rusty Humphries Show, Paul bemoaned the fact that Republicans “are still divided on [eliminating] foreign aid.” The Kentucky senator continued that Republicans have to get “on the same page on eliminating wasteful things like foreign aid.”
PAUL: But you need to eliminate some things. Republicans are still divided on foreign aid. Some Republicans still want to send foreign aid. We send foreign aid to China. We send economic development assistance to China. We’ve got to get Republicans on the same page on eliminating wasteful things like foreign aid, sending the Department of Education back to the states, greatly downsizing if not eliminating the Department of Energy, all of these things we do up here.
Listen to it:
There are two problems with Paul’s goal of getting rid of foreign aid. First, it would do almost nothing to balance the federal budget. Though polls show Americans think it accounts for anywhere from 10 percent to one-third of the budget, in fact, less than one percent of federal spending goes towards foreign aid.
Second, zeroing out foreign aid would be a disaster for both those living in dire poverty around the world and the United States’ foreign policy interests. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) ripped his own party on the issue last month, saying that eliminating foreign aid would be “outrightly foolish” and “un-Christian.” “I resent the idea that the conservative viewpoint somehow is at odds with the idea of strategic investment in countries around the globe,” Huckabee said in South Carolina. Helping lift people around the globe out of poverty also benefits our own economic and national security interests.
Unfortunately, Paul’s position has found much more favor in the Republican Party of late than Huckabee’s. Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul have all called for zeroing out foreign aid during the presidential primary campaign. Rick Santorum is the only presidential candidate willing to defend foreign aid, calling his opponents’ opposition a “lowlight.”