Republicans Advance Bill Targeting US Funding for UN: ‘What Are We Paying For?’

Republicans Advance Bill Targeting US Funding for UN: ‘What Are We Paying For?’

By

Patrick Goodenough

October 14, 2011

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, meets with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Washington in March 2009. (UN Photo by Eskinder Debebe)

(CNSNews.com)

– A U.S. House committee Thursday approved a bill linking U.S. contributions to the United Nations to significant financial and other reforms, one day after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned she would recommend that President Obama veto the measure if it reaches his desk.

Deeply divided along party lines, the House Foreign Relations Committee voted 23-15 for the U.N. Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act (H.R. 2829), whose most radical provision aims to force the U.N. to change its funding mechanism from the current system of “assessed” contributions to voluntary ones.

Proponents say this would allow the U.S. – and other member states – to fund only those activities and agencies it regards as being efficiently managed, and in the national interest.

In order to compel the U.N. to make the shift, the legislation would withhold 50 percent of the U.S. assessed contributions to the regular budget (which does not include peacekeeping) if the U.N. has not moved at least 80 percent of the budget to voluntary funding within two years.

American taxpayers account for 22 percent of the U.N.’s regular operating budget and 27 percent of the separate peacekeeping budget in “assessed” dues. In addition the U.S. provides billions of dollars in voluntary contributions for various U.N. agencies. In FY 2010 the total U.S. contribution was $7.69 billion.

Conservatives critical of the U.N. have long advocated the U.S. using its leverage, as the biggest funder by far, to push the world body to reform – and to weaken efforts by hostile member-states to use the U.N. to harm American interests.

The bill’s author, committee chairwoman Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), told Thursday’s markup hearing that the U.N. budget continues to climb.

“What are we paying for?” she asked, then cited repressive regimes’ membership on the Human Rights Council, a continuing anti-Israel bias, the elevation of member states like North Korea and Iran to leadership positions in various bodies, and corruption scandals.

“Why do we bear the financial burden for this?” Ros-Lehtinen continued. “Every year, scores of member countries that contribute almost nothing to the U.N. vote together to pass the budget. Then they pass the costs on to big donors like the U.S., which is assessed a whopping 22 percent.

“In contrast, China pays just three percent. We need a game-changer.”

The committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Howard Berman, said the “real agenda” behind the bill was to end U.S. participation in the U.N. and to “deal a fatal financial blow to the world body.”

He argued that there was no evidence to support the notion that withholding dues can leverage meaningful change.

“Previous attempts at withholding did not lead to any significant and lasting reforms – they only succeeded in weakening our diplomatic standing and influence, and undermining efforts to promote transparency, fiscal responsibility and good management practices in the U.N. system,” Berman told the committee.

‘A dangerous retreat’

If the bill does pass in the House – where it has 125 co-sponsors, all Republican – its passage through the Democrat-controlled Senate would be an uphill battle. Even if it did make it through the Senate, its chances of making it into law are slim.

In a letter to Ros-Lehtinen on Wednesday, Clinton expressed strong opposition to the measure, saying if it reached the president, she would recommend a veto.

Citing U.N. missions in Iraq and Afghanistan as examples, she argued that international engagement through the U.N. comes at a fraction of the cost of acting alone.

“This bill also represents a dangerous retreat from the longstanding, bipartisan focus of the United States on constructive engagement within the United Nations to galvanize collective action to tackle urgent security problems,” she wrote

Golfing While the Constitution Burns

Golfing While the Constitution Burns

Ben Johnson, The White House Watch

 

When Barack Obama and John Boehner played golf this weekend, they played
on the same team
. How appropriate.

Barack Obama has violated the Constitution’s war-making power – reserved by
Article I, Section 8,
to Congress – from the moment he sent American troops into harm’s way without
Congressional approval. He has been violating the War Powers Resolution since at
least the 60th day of that campaign. And he has violated the most
liberal reading of that act – the one Boehner has adopted as his own – since
this weekend. Yet despite the letter
Boehner authored last week, which the media presented as an “ultimatum,”
Obama has neither obtained Congressional authorization nor removed our troops.
Boehner’s
letter weakly supplicated
“I sincerely hope the Administration will
faithfully comply with the War Powers Resolution,” but at least it seemed to set
this weekend as a definitive cut-off point.

The “deadline” has come and gone, and Obama has not answered the most burning
questions of the mission’s legality to anyone’s satisfaction. Instead, the
president has thumbed his nose at Congress in general, Boehner in particular,
and the American people at large, and the Speaker-cum-caddy has made no
meaningful response whatsoever.

Obama insists the American role in Libya is too diminutive to constitute
“hostilities,” so his action is perfectly legal. White House spokesman Jay
Carney repeated
his boss’s party line at Monday’s press conference, stating, “the War Powers
Resolution does not need to be involved because the ‘hostilities’ clause of that
resolution is not met.” However, soldiers in Libya are receiving an additional
$25
a month in “imminent danger pay.”
American drones still rain missiles down
upon military targets. NATO is alternately
bombing
Muammar Qaddafi’s home
and killing the innocent Libyan civilians they are
purportedly protecting. (We had to kill the civilians in order to save them?)
NATO admitted (at
least
) one of its bombs went off target on Sunday, killing
nine civilians in Tripoli
, while allied bombs allegedly killed
15 civilians in Sorman on Monday
.

Not to worry, though; Defense Secretary Robert Gates said over the weekend,
in a confidence-builder worthy of Churchill, “I think this is
going to end OK.”
Gates, who once
opposed
the Libyan adventure, has pulled
a 180
on the matter.

Even Obama’s short-term fellow Illinois Senator, Dick Durbin, agrees
Libya more than rises to the level of hostilities.

So, too, we have learned, do the best legal minds of Obama’s administration
(not a coveted nor much-contested title, I assure you). In overruling
his own lawyers, Obama rejected the
considered conclusions
of Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon’s general counsel,
and Caroline Krass, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal
Counsel (OLC). The New York Times reported
it is “extraordinarily rare” for any president to overrule the OLC. “Under
normal circumstances, the office’s interpretation of the law is legally binding
on the executive branch.”

But then, nothing in the Obama administration transpires under “normal
circumstances.”

Two former OLC lawyers outlined precisely how unusual the dismissal was….

Read
more
.

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION PLANS CAMPAIGN TO ‘STRENGTHEN’ UN…

Susan
Rice kicks off U.N. series

By: Mike Allen and Jake
Sherman

February 11, 2011 09:27 AM EST

Susan Rice, President Barack Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, will
argue in a major address Friday evening that the U.S. should “strengthen” — not
“starve” — the world body.

The address is the first in a series of
speeches — to continue this spring – making the case to the American people
about why the U.N. matters to national security, and how it is being
improved.
House Republicans failed this week in trying to get $180
million in overpaid dues back from the United Nations. The effort was widely
panned by New Yorkers in Congress as damaging to security.
The ambassador will be speaking to the World Affairs Council of Oregon, in
Portland.
“The U.N. provides a real return on our tax dollars by
bringing 192 countries together to share the cost of providing stability, vital
aid, and hope in the world’s most broken places,” Rice says in prepared
remarks.
“Because of the U.N., the world doesn’t look to America to
solve every problem alone. … We’re far better off working to strengthen the U.N.
than trying to starve it—and then having to choose between filling the void
ourselves, or leaving real threats untended

Defund the United Nations

Defund the United Nations

December 22nd, 2010

Neil Stevens, RedState.com

The United States of America keeps the United Nations afloat. In 2009 we were assessed 22% of the budget of the UN, and paid out slightly under 24% of what was collected, thanks to the Tax Equalization Fund system. So in practice we paid about a quarter of the UN budget. Without us, the UN has to do some serious belt tightening.

So if we’re going to keep alive the UN as we know it, spending $598,292,101 in a direct assessment and surely more in other expenses, we’d best make sure we’re getting our money’s worth. The Obama deficit has gone through the roof and we simply cannot afford frivolous luxuries anymore. If the UN is not achieving its mission, it’s time we stopped paying for it.

This month I believe the UN has finally crossed the threshold of uselessness, and it’s time we defund it….

Read more.

Obama’s Envoy: We’ll Slash Carbon Footprint “Even Without Domestic Legislation”

Obama’s Envoy: We’ll Slash Carbon Footprint “Even Without Domestic Legislation”

November 30th, 2010

Dana Gatusso, National Policy Center Blog

As  UN negotiators attempt to lower the expectations bar on the  climate  change talks that kicked off yesterday in Cancun, keep your eye on  Todd  Stern, the Obama administration’s special climate change envoy and  the  U.S. government’s representative at the talks. Already he is  promising  U.N. officials that the U.S. will cut carbon emissions even  though  Congress never approved legislation and the American people are  against  any such measures.

Desperate to avoid any repeats of the failure that was the Copenhagen summit last December, UN officials assert….

Read more.

The Agenda Revealed: How Obama Will Rule by Executive Order in 2011

The Agenda Revealed: How Obama Will Rule by Executive Order in 2011

November 22nd, 2010

Ben Johnson, FloydReports.com

Late last month, a reporter asked the head of the Office of Public Engagement Valerie Jarrett what she would tell her close friend Barack Obama about the American uprising against his aggressive liberalism. She replied,   “To stay the course and to know that it will get better.” Those were   not idle words of comfort; they were marching orders. The president told the New York Times he runs every decision by Jarrett, and she has admitted to Vogue magazine, “I kind of know what makes [both Obamas] who they are.” When she speaks, Obama listens.

The   day after the election, as pundits forecast how he would compromise   with the Republican House, Barack Obama revealed that he planned to   continue moving this country to the Left. As though he were invincibly   ignorant to the will of the people, Obama told Democratic volunteers on a conference call, “We’ve just got to work harder to deliver the change the American people want.”

Last   week, the Center for American Progress (CAP), which received   significant seed money from George Soros, released a 47-page paper   illustrating how he could do that: by ruling through executive order, as   this author reported he would. Some of their proposals include  blocking  legislation passed by Congress, advancing the Cloward-Piven  Strategy,  and levying a new fee on foreign oil. Now, Soros is  threatening to dry  up the cash flow if Obama does not comply. Obama  appears poised to  continue shoving the big government liberalism  Americans repudiated this  month down their collective throat through  executive action.

Read more.

Obama Considering Rule by Executive Order in 2011

Obama Considering Rule by Executive Order in 2011

October 8th, 2010

Ben Johnson, Floyd Reports

This morning, political commentators are paying a great deal of attention to one of the Los Angeles Times’ stories about Barack Obama’s plans for a Republican takeover of Congress. Unfortunately, they are focusing on the wrong one. Most commentators spent the morning quoting the president’s remarks on a black radio program that a GOP-dominated Congress will result in “hand-to-hand combat.” The reality is most of the action will take place behind their backs and over their heads. All indications are, if Obama cannot get his legislative agenda enacted by Congress, he will impose it by decree.

The evidence comes buried elsewhere in today’s L.A. Times in a piece by Peter Nicholas and Christi Parsons under the hum-drum headline, “Obama Reshapes Administration for a Fresh Strategy.” The story makes clear the “fresh strategy” borders on government by executive fiat. It begins, “As President Obama remakes his senior staff, he is also shaping a new approach for the second half of his term: to advance his agenda through executive actions he can take on his own, rather than pushing plans through an increasingly hostile Congress.” This rule by divine right of kings is confirmed by no less an Obama insider than David Axelrod, who said, “It’s fair to say that the next phase is going to be less about legislative action than it is about managing the change that we’ve brought.” The Times states candidly:

So the best arena for Obama to execute his plans may be his own branch of government. That means more executive orders, more use of the bully pulpit, and more deployment of his ample regulatory powers and the wide-ranging rulemaking authority of his Cabinet members.  (Emphases added.)

Read more.

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