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Obama’s support for the “world-poverty bill”

February 22, 2008

While perusing my regular news feeds last night, I came across an article written by Les Blumenthal about criticism over Barak Obama’s sponsorship of S. 2433, the “Global Poverty Act of 2007.”  Mr. Blumenthal is quick to give readers the impression that any controversy over this bill is pure fabrication by conservative bloggers and Rush Limbaugh. But is this just another “vast right-wing conspiracy” aimed at someone other than a politician with the last name “Clinton?”

The nature of the controversy is the cost to the American taxpayer in a United Nations effort targeting the poorest of the poor.

Quoting Section 2, Item 3, “The United Nations Millennium Development Goals include the goal of reducing by one-half the proportion of people worldwide, between 1990 and 2015, that live on less than $1 per day, cutting in half the proportion of people suffering from hunger and unable to access safe drinking water and sanitation, reducing child mortality by two-thirds, ensuring basic education for all children, and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS and malaria, while sustaining the environment upon which human life depends.”

The author includes statements by the author of the House bill (H. R. 1302), Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash. Rep. Smith is quick to point out that the bill includes no provision for funding. He’s quite right. So what’s the controversy?

Let’s take a look at Section 4(b). The bill calls upon the President to develop a comprehensive strategy which “shall include, but not be limited to, specific and measurable goals, efforts to be undertaken, benchmarks, and timetables to achieve the objectives…” So far, Rep. Smith’s statement rings true.

Here’s Section 4(c)(1): “Continued investment in existing United States initiatives related to international poverty reduction, such as the United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003, the Millennium Challenge Act of 2003, the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, and trade preference programs for developing countries, such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act.”

Although Rep. Smith’s statement is technically true — the bill does not require any public funding — it requires the President to develop a means of achieving the goals clearly defined in this legislation. Once this strategy is developed, I guarantee it will not simply be used as lining for the bottom of a birdcage. Make no mistake; it will be used to cobble legislation that will require massive public “investment” which will result in higher taxes.

We’ve already provided billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars in the form of foreign aid. Even with that sizeable “investment” of American taxpayers’ good will, world poverty still exists. Giving our tax dollars to the United Nations will do nothing more than set the stage for further reductions in the sovereignty of the United States and our ability to develop and conduct independent foreign policy.

And by the way, we’ve been waging a war on poverty in this country for longer than I can remember. You can measure our success in that area by the number of homeless and the number of people on some form of public relief. We should take care of our own people first, and it should be by private donations.

Finally, I’d like to point out that although helping those in need is the moral thing to do, there is no provision in our Constitution for taking wealth from American citizens for purposes of redistributing it to those deemed less fortunate. Mr. Smith, Mr. Obama and others who feel so inclined may donate whatever portion of their personal wealth toward global poverty reduction. They can do so with my blessing.



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