When Sound Bites Kill

When Ron Paul described foreign aid as taxing the poor in the U.S. to give to the rich in poor countries, he repeated a slogan that appeals to many Americans who have forgotten why their relatives came to the U.S. His comments came in response to a question specifically about funding PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, created by George W. Bush in 2003 with help in the U.S. Senate from Rick Santorum.

It costs the U.S. taxpayers about $6.1 billion annually to support PEPFAR and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Rather than enrich the wealthy in poor countries those programs fund about 400 AIDS prevention and treatment programs in 100 countries which serve approximately 6.6 million people. How effective are those programs? A recent study showed they reduce the chance of transmitting the virus by 96 percent.

Unfortunately, the global economic crisis and ideologues like Ron Paul threaten these programs. Italy and Spain have failed to make their pledged contributions in recent years and the U.S. share may also be cut depending on how the political battles play out in the coming months.

Without question some U.S. foreign aid has been misspent. However, to tar all programs with the same brush shows is an example of the kind of thinking that would be extremely dangerous in a President. Ideologues on the Left and the Right can’t be bothered understanding the world they live in. They don’t want to know the facts on the ground. If things don’t go the way their theories suggest, they either tell you to wait a while or their theory wasn’t applied properly.

For another analysis of Ron Paul’s answers in Tuesday’s debate read James Taranto’s Nov. 23 column in the Wall Street Journal.

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