Why Mike Johnson Is Correct

US speaker of the House Mike Johnson attends a news conference at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on April 16, 2024. (Photo by Julia Nikhinson / AFP) (Photo by JULIA NIKHINSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Being Speaker of the House with an extraordinarily slim majority is a really tough job. You have to cut deals because you have no other capacity to get anything done. That’s because given the fact there is a one-vote “motion to vacate” rule that is in place in the House of Representatives, any one member of the Republican caucus can challenge the job of the Speaker of the House at any given time.

It also means if a bunch of headline-grabbing people in the Republican caucus are more interested in being on television than in actually governing, maintaining a majority, or growing that majority to get big things done, that can hold up the works.

All this is coming to a head because House Speaker Mike Johnson has now put forward a series of bills related to foreign aid. 

Foreign aid is not the United States being wildly charitable. It is not the United States randomly deciding to drop goody bags in poor parts of the world. It does not involve simply sending food to Somalia or something of that nature. When it comes to foreign aid, there are always strings attached.

That’s what makes it in America’s interest. It’s the same way as attempting to sponsor a friend in order to accomplish a particular goal; you might lend or give that friend money to get back on their feet in order to make sure that person remains a friend or that an ally is able to be strong.

That is what American foreign aid does, and this has historically been the role of American foreign aid. In the aftermath of World War II, the United States effectively single-handedly rebuilt Europe with the Marshall Plan.

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A lot of people on the Republican side of the aisle have said that all foreign aid is somehow bad, terrible, useless, or, worse than useless, that it’s counterproductive because we’re not spending it at home; thus, we shouldn’t be spending it at all.

Such an argument is insanely shortsighted because there are two ways we spend our defense money. One: actual defense, meaning, for example, creating F-35s, F-22s, aircraft carriers, and submarines. Two: providing for our national defense by strengthening our allies.

When our allies are not strong, we have to step in and take the lead. It turns out that stepping in is a lot more expensive. Allies who are unable to defend themselves lead to enemies who are able to take advantage of that, thus threatening American interests and forcing American involvement. This has happened over and over in American history. When our allies are not strong enough, the United States ends up taking a lead role in areas we have no interest in being.

Foreign aid represents well under 1% of the federal budget of the United States nearly every year. Yet I have been noticing a lot of people screaming to the heavens about the cost of foreign aid: “Oh, I can’t believe how much this is costing.”

There are some people who are consistent libertarians. There are some people who say the government shouldn’t be spending on Social Security, disability, welfare, and foreign aid. That is, at least, a consistent position. I think it’s wrongheaded because America’s foreign policy interests require that we have strong allies who eventually will be able to take care of themselves.

But there is also a group of people in the Republican Party who are taking the view that foreign aid is a uniquely bad spend, that we’re wasting taxpayer dollars.

I don’t believe this is about fiscal responsibility, as they proclaim. When you continue to vote in favor of $5, $6, $7 trillion budgets every single year, but foreign aid is where you begin pinching pennies, I start to get a little suspicious.

We currently spend about 22% of our federal budget every year on Social Security, which is a giant Ponzi scheme because it is a defined benefits plan, not a defined contribution plan. What you pay in is not, in fact, what you get out. For most people, you get out way more from Social Security than you ever paid in. Health care, which is Medicare/Medicaid, represents about 26% of the federal budget. National defense only represents 13% of the federal budget.

So when you tell me that you are deeply worried about the less-than-one percent spent on foreign aid to allies in war time, I think that perhaps you have a different set of priorities.

That suggests to me that there may be a set of ulterior motives I don’t fully understand. I don’t really understand what the motivation is for those who seem to suggest that Russia taking Ukraine is of zero interest to the United States. Russia taking Ukraine would be of major interest to the United States, not only because Ukraine is the third largest producer of wheat on planet Earth, but also because Ukraine is strategically placed directly on the border between Russia and Europe, which is presumably the reason why Vladimir Putin wants it. It would be a danger to Eastern Europe, particularly the Baltic states, if Russia were to take Ukraine. 

Ukraine’s border being far from the borders of Lithuania and Latvia creates a massive problem for the Russian military. They would have to worry about NATO’s forces being deployed against Russia via Ukraine. It would free up American forces, NATO’s forces, and allied forces to fight an invasion of NATO’s allies like Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

Right now, Ukraine is fighting NATO’s war. That is a reality. Ukraine is weakening the Russian military and providing a bulwark against NATO’s states being invaded.

The Wall Street Journal reported on this, saying:

House Speaker Mike Johnson said Wednesday he would plunge ahead with a high-stakes vote to move long-stalled funding for Ukraine, Israel and other overseas allies, elbowing aside criticism from his conservative flank. The move sets up an unpredictable weekend showdown that could determine both the fate of the foreign-aid package—and Johnson’s political career.

Democrats will line up behind the aid effort. Johnson’s plan is to bring the subjects of Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and the TikTok ban, and package all of them together. The reality is that all of them are going to pass with a majority of both parties voting in favor.

Yes, Johnson will require Democratic support in order to pass that bill. A majority of Republicans in the House will vote for that bill. Also, there is a Democratic Senate and a Democratic president, which means that if it is any priority for Ukraine not to simply fall by running out of ammo to the Russians, then you’ve got to make the deal that you can make.

In an interview with CNN, Johnson stated:

Since World War II, really, the responsibility for the free world has been shifted onto our shoulders. And we accept that role. We’re an exceptional nation. We’re the greatest nation on the planet, and we have to act like it. And we have to project to Putin and Xi and Iran and North Korea and anybody else that we will defend freedom. It doesn’t mean boots on the ground. We’re not the world’s policeman, but we’re going to do the right thing. And I think the Congress is going to take an important stand here.

This is basic Reagan Republicanism. I know “Reagan” has become a dirty word for some reason, despite the fact Reagan won the Cold War and led to the greatest peacetime economic expansion in American history. Somehow, we’re supposed to believe a bunch of clowns riding the back seats of the House of Representatives, who have not actually accomplished anything in their entire political career, and have some really mean words about Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy.

Now, is this going to be a perfect bill? No. There’s going to be a bunch of crap in the bill you don’t like. There’s going to be a bunch of crap in the bill I don’t like. Is this bill perfect? No. Does it have a lot of problems? Yes. Is this bill necessary in order to preserve the strength of America’s allies? Yes.

That is why Johnson is right to move the bill forward. There’s also a politically important reason to do so: If you want Republicans to win a broader majority and actually make the serious kinds of cuts to government that are necessary, you need to win Congress by more than three votes. In order for that to happen, you have to win purple districts.

And the bill is relatively popular in purple districts, by every available polling metric.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Why Mike Johnson Is Correct