Accuracy in Media

The New York Times has run another story about the “big new tax cuts” being proposed by President Bush. This liberal paper doesn’t want the American people to get back this much of their own money. But it has carefully shielded from public view the fact that the United Nations and other international agencies are scheduled to get a significant boost in funding.

The spending increase for the United Nations, whose failures have been on display for everyone to see, has been guarded like a national security secret. A White House “fact sheet” said the president’s budget proposal would “strengthen our economy, prosecute the war against terror, defend our nation and allow Americans to keep more of their own money.” It said nothing about more money for the U.N.

Those so-called “big tax cuts” were a constant focus of much of the coverage about the budget plan. But the fact is that the U.N. would also keep more of our money under the proposal. That’s a story that many taxpayers would find interesting. But many people aren’t even aware of it.

The Times covered it indirectly by noting that the Bush plan “calls for an increase of $2.9 billion, or 11 percent, for international affairs, to $28.5 billion?” Many readers probably didn’t understand that this is a category that includes the U.N. and other international agencies.

The Washington Post referred to this fact indirectly, saying, “Aside from national defense, homeland security and international affairs, spending on the rest of government would grow [only] by one-half of 1 percent from 2002 levels.” That was an oblique way of acknowledging that spending on international affairs, including the U.N., would go up.

President Bush and his advisers are obviously frustrated with the U.N. Nevertheless, the U.N., which has dragged its feet on Iraq, North Korea and other critical matters, would actually see more money in the Bush budget. Asked about this at a recent meeting in Washington, a White House official stammered and then said it was “not a reward for behavior” but a matter of international “legal obligations.”

Official State Department calculations show contributions to international organizations rising to over $1 billion in fiscal year 2004, as opposed to $891 million in 2003. In addition to the U.N., international organizations getting more money include the International Cotton Advisory Committee, whose budget rises to $280,000 a year. The International Rubber Study Group gets $124,000, and The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants gets $166,000. The U.S. Institute for Peace, a bipartisan boondoggle, sees a rise in its budget to $17 million a year. Using taxpayer dollars, it duplicates what other think tanks and foundations do with private money.

The White House has provided conservatives a paper, “The Bush Administration Record of Accomplishment,” which notes that Bush cut funding for one special agency, the U.N. Population Fund, and that he rejected the International Criminal Court, global warming treaty and ABM Treaty. It claims victories at various U.N. conferences and asserts there has been a “change in personnel and tone at the United Nations.” This is apparently a reference to the U.S. Mission to the U.N., not the world body as a whole. The paper doesn’t mention that Bush wants $71 million for the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the agency that safeguards Independence Hall as a “World Heritage” site and has a plan to restore colonial Havana.

One highlight of the budget, which was mentioned by the president in his State of the Union address and has gotten a lot of press, is $15 billion over five years to fight AIDS. This nearly triples the amount we are now giving. The U.S. Agency for International Development promotes condoms to fight AIDS and says it has already distributed more than one billion of them worldwide. It even provides them to “sex workers” in brothels.

Less well known is the fact that U.N. peacekeepers are not tested for HIV before being deployed and that they get a condom-a-day under a program started by Kofi Annan. Ironically, the U.N. started distributing condoms to peacekeepers because of U.S. concern that U.N. forces were spreading AIDS in the very countries they were supposed to protect. It’s another U.N. failure that nevertheless earns it more money from American taxpayers.




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