Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Israeli appetite for US welfare funds

Israeli appetite for US welfare funds

By Jamal Kanj
March 14, 2013

Failing to agree on ways to reduce the deficit, the US president was forced earlier this month to enact the Budget Control Act (BCA) into law.

The debt ceiling compromise was originally agreed to between Congress and the president in summer 2011.

Known as sequestration, it forces across the board spending cuts by over $85 billion in 2013, increasing to $109bn thereafter reaching $1.5 trillion by 2021.

BCA cuts were divided equally between domestic and defence programmes.

It was originally stipulated to take effect on January 1, 2013 but was delayed for two months to avoid the "fiscal cliff".

Economists predicted the US economy would nosedive into recession if the compulsory budget cuts were combined with the expiration of the Bush tax breaks for the rich and increased payroll tax.

Each of the two parties were hoping the results of the 2012 election would send a resounding message to the new leadership to settle the argument over the best approach to reduce US budget shortfall.

The election, however, put things back to pre-summer 2011 when it re-elected again one party for the executive branch and another, albeit weakened, remained leading the House of Representatives.

The discretionary reduction in the defence covers areas such as weapon purchases, base operations, construction work, educational assistance to American soldiers, in addition to $168 million for security enhancement at US embassies.

The domestic cuts came from both mandatory and discretionary spending on low-income programmes ranging from aid for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Head Start for low-income children, "Meals-on-Wheels" for hungry seniors, unemployment trust fund to Social Security and Medicare.

All in all, BCA could cost the US economy more than 750,000 jobs and over half a point from GDP growth.

It is certain when considering the impact of budget cuts on taxpayers neither political party gave much consideration to foreign beneficiaries.

Not until now at least.

While American taxpayers became content with the painful cuts, Israel and its lobby were not.

To the chagrin of Israeli firsters, sequestration stands to reduce Israel's welfare cheque this year by more than $200m.

Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz expressed trepidation over the looming US budget constraints at the Israeli cabinet meeting on March 3 declaring: "the economic difficulties in the United States worry us. I hope that we will not be hurt by them".

Steinitz's message was heard by America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Literally two days later, AIPAC massed thousands of Israeli firsters at its annual policy conference in Washington for this year's mission.

The inculcated lobbyists swarmed the Halls of US Congress readied with two-prong strategy: first urge US Senators to pass a resolution supporting an Israeli attack on Iran.

Second seek exemption of Israel's $3.1bn as well as its extra $211m for the Iron Dome missile defence system from sequestration.

To do so, AIPAC solicitors contrived a clever approach to sidestep BCA by promoting a US legislation to designate Israel as a "major US strategic ally".

A status enjoyed by no other nation which will presumably save Israel's aid from BCA axe.

Last week Israeli Ambassador to Washington Michael Oren echoed AIPAC's objectives and in what sounded like lecturing US legislators, he warned in the Jerusalem Post: "This is no time to reduce critical assistance which would only result in greater and graver costs".

While BCA across the board cuts did not spare more than $40bn from America's defence budget, the Israeli ambassador and AIPAC want elected officials to preserve US taxpayers' funding for Israeli military budget.

US legislators who regularly squabble over local spending, never fail Israel's appetite for taxpayer's largesse.

Now they have another opportunity to show their servitude when considering bill H.R. 938 United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013; a uniquely privileged status putting Israel's welfare ahead of members of the US army.

*************

Jamal Kanj (www.jamalkanj.com) writes weekly newspaper column and publishes on several websites on Arab world issues. He is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. A version of this article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Journalism, History And Forgetting

Compare that [the saturation coverage of WWI] not just with the thinly reported anniversaries last year of key battles in the New Zealand Wars, but with the coverage of the very consequential present-day efforts to remedy the damage those wars wrought, and the picture is pretty dismal. More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf: Climate Of Fear

New Zealand, promoting itself as an efficient producer, has been operating as a factory farm for overseas markets with increasing intensity ever since the introduction of refrigerated shipping in 1882. The costs to native forests and to bio-diversity have been outlandish. The discussion of impacts has been minimal... More>>

ALSO:

Greek Riddles: Gordon Campbell On The Recent Smackdown Over Greece

There had been a fortnight of fevered buildup. Yet here we are in the aftermath of the February 28 showdown between the new Syriza government in Greece and the European Union “troika” and… no-one seems entirely sure what happened. Did the asteroid miss Earth? More>>

ALSO:

Keith Rankin: Contribution Through Innovation

The economic contribution of businesses and people is often quite unrelated to their taxable incomes. EHome, as a relatively new company, may have never earned any taxable income. Its successors almost certainly will earn income and pay tax. Yet it was eHome itself who made the biggest contribution by starting the venture in the first place. More>>

ALSO:

A Public Conversation: Reinventing News As A Public Right

Alastair Thompson: Oh how the mighty have fallen. Once journalism was possibly a noble profession, though that is certainly now, to quote our Prime Minister, a 'contestable' notion. It certainly seemed at least a little noble when I joined the ranks of reporters in 1989 . But ... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news