So the federal government didn’t shut down over the weekend, although we may have to go through all this drama again in six weeks. Kevin McCarthythe president of the House of Representatives, ended up doing the obvious: introducing a funding bill that could only be passed with Democratic votes, because hardliners in his own party wouldn’t accept anything feasible. And the bill included none of the spending cuts Republicans have been demanding, except for one big, bad thing: a cut in aid to Ukraine.
Democrats appear to have accepted this bill because they hope to get a separate vote on aid to Ukraine; President Biden has indicated that it believes it has an agreement with McCarthy for this purpose. I hope they are right.
But why have things turned out like this? Michael Strainfrom the right-wing (but mostly non-MAGA, Make America Great Again) American Enterprise Institutehas called the fiscal confrontation the “closing ‘Seinfeld’“, that is, a closure for nothing. It’s a good line, but if we’re going to make references to popular culture, I think it would be better to call it the closing.”Grid“, as in people who shout “I’m very angry, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”.
Nothing less than a coup d’état can satisfy this incipient rage. But McCarthy He evidently thought he could reduce the reaction against his deal with the Democrats by betraying, or at least pretending to betray, Ukraine. That is clearly something that MAGA wants. But why?
Despite what voices may claim anti-Ukraine like Elon MuskIt’s not about money.
Hardliners on the right, both in Congress and outside, say they are upset about the amount we are spending supporting Ukraine. But if they really cared about the financial burden of aid, they would make the minimum effort necessary to get the numbers right. No, it helps Ukraine is not undermining the future of the Social Securityneither making the security of our borders impossible, nor consuming 40% of the GDP of USA.
How much are we really spending on supporting Ukraine? In the 18 months after the Russian invasion, American aid amounted to 77 billion dollars. It may seem like a lot. It is a lot compared to the tiny sums that we usually allocate to foreign aid. But total federal spending now amounts to more than $6 trillion a year, or more than $9 trillion every 18 months, so aid to Ukraine represents less than 1% of federal spending (and less than 0.3% of GDP). The military portion of that spending amounts to less than 5 percent of the U.S. defense budget. USA.
By the way, USA is not at all bearing the burden of helping Ukraine In solitary. In the past, donald trump and others have complained that European nations do not spend enough on their own defense. But as far as Ukraine, European countries and institutions have collectively made aid commitments substantially greater than ours. In particular, most of Europeincluding France, Germany and Britainhas promised aid that is greater as a percentage of the GDP that the commitment of USA.
But back to the costs of aid Ukraine: Considering how small an aid budget item is, claims that aid Ukraine it somehow makes it impossible to do other necessary things, like securing the border, they are meaningless. The types of MAGA They are not known for getting their numbers right or, for that matter, for caring about whether they get their numbers right, but I doubt that even they really believe that the monetary costs of helping Ukraine They are unaffordable.
AND The benefits of helping a beleaguered democracy are enormous. Let us remember that, before the war, Russia It was considered a major military power, which most Americans viewed as a critical threat (and whose unawakened military some Republicans extolled). Now that power has been humiliated.
The unexpected success of Ukrainian resistance to Russian aggression has also put other autocratic regimes that might have been tempted to wage wars of conquest on notice that democracies are not so easy to invade. Not to exaggerate, but Russia’s failures in Ukraine have surely reduced the chances of China invading Taiwan.
Finally, what even Republicans used to call the free world has clearly been strengthened. The NATO has risen to the occasion, confounding cynics, and is adding members. Western weapons have proven their effectiveness.
These are great benefits for expenses that are a small fraction of what we spend on Iraq and Afghanistan, and let’s not forget that Ukrainians are fighting and dying. Why, then, do politicians MAGA they want to isolate Ukraine?
The answer is, unfortunately, obvious. Whatever they say Hardline Republicans want Putin to win. They consider that the cruelty and repression of the regime Putin They are admirable characteristics that USA should emulate. They support a would-be dictator at home and sympathize with real dictators abroad.
So don’t pay attention to all those complaints about how much we’re spending on Ukraine. They are not justified by the real cost of the aid, and people who say they are worried about the cost don’t really care about the money. What they are, basically, is enemies of democracy, both abroad and at home.
*This article was published in The New York Times.-