By Bill Sammon
Barack Obama, who lamented Friday that “we have not managed our federal budget with any kind of discipline,” is nonetheless promising to spend $50 billion on a United Nations anti-poverty program that critics say will drive up American debt.
“The short-term weakness in the capital market is a reflection of long-term problems that we have in our economy,” Obama told reporters in Florida. “We have been loading up enormous amounts of debt.”
Yet Obama and his running mate, Joe Biden, have pledged tens of billions in new spending on a U.N. program that promises cash to poor countries. The program is one of eight sweeping “Millennium Development Goals” the U.N. adopted in 2000.
“Obama and Biden will embrace the Millennium Development Goal of cutting extreme poverty around the world in half by 2015, and they will double our foreign assistance to $50 billion to achieve that goal,” the candidates vow in their campaign platform.
Johns Hopkins professor Steve Hanke said such spending would merely drive up American debt, while doing almost nothing for the world’s poor.
“It goes down a bureaucratic rat-hole, lining the pockets of people who are connected to the power structure,” said Hanke, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. “It’s basically a system to redistribute income from middle class people in the United States to rich people in poor countries. It never reaches those people who are living on a dollar a day.”
Hanke said such expenditures are especially unwise in the wake of significant expansions of government and spending during President Bush’s tenure.
“We’ve been spending like drunken sailors and making obligations into the future like drunken sailors,” he said. “We’re on an unsustainable path in terms of the fiscal situation in the United States because of massive spending growth and commitments.”
Obama said he wants to curtain at least one of those costly commitments.
“We have spent well over half a trillion dollars — soon to be a trillion dollars — on a war in Iraq, despite the fact that Iraqis are now running surpluses,” the Illinois senator said Friday. “We’re still spending $10 billion a month there.”
But in December, Obama also sponsored the Global Poverty Act which, if passed, would require the president to commit to cutting global poverty in half by 2015. Critics say that would cost American taxpayers $845 billion.
Susan Rice, one of Obama’s top foreign policy advisers, says the U.S. should give 0.7 percent of its Gross Domestic Product to developing nations.
Bill Sammon is Washington deputy managing editor for FOX News Channel.