By Christopher J. Petherick -
One of the top Republican legislators in Congress says Washington has enough money for more wars and foreign aid, but when it comes to helping tax-paying Americans devastated by natural disasters, they’ll get zilch.
After three acts of God tore through Louisa, Va. in a matter of weeks last August, the congressman who represents that area, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), declined to help the small rural community just outside of Richmond pay for an estimated $18 million in property damage.
On Aug. 23, Louisa found itself at the heart of a 5.8 magnitude earthquake that rattled the entire East Coast. Less than a week later, on Aug. 26, Hurricane Irene sideswiped the area. Then, as if that wasn’t bad enough, a month later, a tornado touched down near the town, causing even more damage.
Despite this, Cantor made it clear that he would not support disaster relief—even for his own constituents who sent him to Washington to represent them—unless it was offset by spending cuts.
But Cantor has no problem sending American tax dollars to wealthy countries like Israel. In fact, last year, Cantor sought to insulate Israel from congressional efforts to scale back the $50 billion that American taxpayers handout to foreign governments annually by creating a special Israeli aid program in the U.S.military that was outside normal State Department budgetary channels.
According to estimates, Israel receives around $3 billion every year from the U.S. But Yitzhak Benhorin, a reporter for Israel’s Ynet News, contends that it is usually more than that. Benhorin writes that Israel remains the “biggest beneficiary of U.S. foreign aid. . . . A couple of years ago, the Bush administration approved a $30 billion aid budget to Israel, spread out over a decade.”
And it’s not like Cantor is a lone voice in his party defending aid to Israel at the expense of American taxpayers.
All of the Republican presidential contenders except for Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) believe aid to Israel is sacrosanct. During the Republican presidential debate on Oct. 18, Paul stood out among his fellow candidates, saying that the U.S. should cut handouts to Israel in order to save taxpayers money.
“I would cut all foreign aid,” he said in response to a question on Israel. “I would treat everybody equally.”
Herman Cain and Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) nearly stumbled over each other for the opportunity to come to Israel’s defense.
“We should not be cutting foreign aid to Israel,” countered Rep. Bachmann. “The biggest problem with this administration and foreign policy is that President Obama is the first president since Israel declared her sovereignty who put daylight between the U.S. and Israel.”
Cain quickly added, “If we clarify who our friends are, clarify who our enemies are, and stop giving money to our enemies, then we ought to continue to give money to our friends, like Israel.”