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Why Not Freeze Foreign Spending, Too?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Last week, in his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama was adamant about freezing U.S. government domestic spending over the next five years. But why not do the same for U.S. spending abroad?

The president said: "So tonight, I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. Now, this would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade."

Forget for a moment that I believe we need to cut government spending by at least 10 percent across the board (including in foreign support) and not just freeze it. Can you imagine American homes in which the primary breadwinners lost their jobs freezing their household spending but not doing the same in their financial support of almost every household in their neighborhoods?

I'm not trying to be heartless to international need, just trying to get our stateside house in order. We can't help others until we first fix ourselves.

What wisdom is there in freezing domestic spending for five years and not doing the same with foreign spending? A crippled U.S. economy is no-brainer evidence of a nation that needs to pull back from being not only the world police but also the world provider.

Despite the fact that I'm no fan of the United Nations, proof of the impotency and hollowness of U.S. foreign aid is reflected in the General Assembly votes from countries to which the U.S. offers aid, for they rarely translate into U.S. agreement and support. In other words, too many countries want and are overly dependent on U.S. generosity, without an iota of allegiance, business or trade reciprocity.

The Heritage Foundation reported, "Of the 30 largest recipients of U.S. foreign aid that have voted during the past eight sessions (years), 29 countries voted against the U.S. in a majority of the non-consensus votes, and 25 voted against the U.S. in a majority of the important non-consensus votes."

In short, the feds are chronic enablers of not only their own U.S. citizens on welfare but also other countries on our foreign aid, preventing all of them from bearing their own responsibilities. The feds have become the parents in the global house, and they are making excuse after excuse as to why others can't tie up their bootstraps, grow up and get along without our help.

This "savior" mentality is crippling the U.S. and ushering in our economic demise, but it's exactly the role of government that President Obama espouses and enacts.

If I were president, here's what I would propose for foreign realignment. I'd have the U.S. State Department inform all other countries that we are freezing domestic and foreign spending for at least the next five years. And at the end of those five years, we'd reassess U.S. support not only on the basis of the health of the U.S. economy but also, more importantly, on the basis of how other countries support U.S. interests and trade over the same time period. One might call that blackmail, but I call it business.

The truth is that in the second five-year period, I would work voraciously to wean other countries off "U.S. milk." They don't need our finances to feel our support. There are many other ways. And in so doing, we'll grow up to be a healthier global community. (I just learned that Rand Paul, the new senator from Kentucky, proposed ending all foreign aid last week.)

And for those who would say that we have to give to get American interests and security, I would reply: Maybe the proof that other countries can't be friends to America without our money is proof that they are no friends at all. No surprise that nearly 60 percent of Americans in a new Gallup Poll said they would be in favor of cutting foreign aid -- the highest percentage in the entire poll.

In his State of the Union speech, President Obama even confessed to the deep need for change in our relations with the world: "Our success in this new and changing world will require reform, responsibility and innovation. It will also require us to approach that world with a new level of engagement in our foreign affairs."

So let me propose that the "new level" is no new level at all, but an old level -- a foreign policy articulated well by our Founding Fathers 200 years ago and other patriots today. I agree with Ron Paul, the father of Rand Paul and an exceptional representative and example of a constitutional statesman. In his book "The Revolution," Ron writes, "It is time for us to consider a strategic reassessment of our policy of foreign interventionism, occupation, and nation building."

Our Founders would not endorse the global presence we have today, especially with the costs of doing so in light of our colossal deficit and debt. As George Washington said, "the great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible. ... 'Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances, with any portion of the foreign world."

Could it get more any wiser and simpler than that?

In the end, the fact is that the U.S. economy could collapse, and the rest of the countries of the world would survive and probably even thrive. I pray that it doesn't take that form of U.S. economic earthquake to prove that very case.

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