by Abe Sauer
Yesterday, we looked at how taxpayer-funded USAID has been supporting evangelical organizations in Haiti, in direct violation of executive orders by both George W. Bush and Barack Obama regarding federal grants to faith-based organizations. We noted in particular how Franklin Graham — Billy Graham’s son — uses federal aid to increase his personal profile and influence and, using USAID-funded Haiti clinics as scenic background for Fox News specials, has secured Sarah Palin’s enthusiastic, fervent endorsement, no doubt in return for election support come 2012.
Now, proving that the left hand of the politically-active religious right doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, over 160 Republicans in the House have endorsed defunding USAID.
The Republican Study Committee (RSC), a loose conglomeration of 165 self-identified conservative GOP House members, unveiled their plan Thursday that they argue could save $2.5 trillion in federal spending over ten years. The proposal is centered around legislation that would eliminate federal funding for USAID, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the U.S. Trade Development Agency, the Woodrow Wilson Center, the USDA Sugar Program, economic assistance to Egypt, and many other programs.
This would-be massacre is being led by Jim Jordan (R-OH), and Scott Garrett (R-NJ).
Those two nincompoops can be forgiven for still believing their pre-election Tea Party promises actually need to be honored anymore.
Jim DeMint, meanwhile, as the Senator who will reportedly chaperone the bill, and who supports not just school prayer but also barring gays from teaching in schools, should know better.
DeMint, a senatorial suppository inserted during the Bush II-era, should be fully aware that during Bush’s administration, USAID funding for faith-based organizations doubled, accounting for around 20% of the agency’s total awards. A Boston Globe report found that about 98% of the “faiths” that received that USAID money were Christian. Barack Obama’s orders on USAID funding to faith-based organizations basically reiterated Bush’s, giving the green light to an ever-increasing income stream for U.S.-based Christian organizations.
Cutting USAID funding would rob Christian aid groups of somewhere just south of $2 billion.
The South Carolina Senator has tried this before. In 2008, he moved to cut a funding expansion of Bush’s worldwide AIDS program, a goodly share of which was granted to Christian organizations. (USAID was sued in 2010 by the ACLU for refusing to release documents regarding USAID’s support for abstinence-only AIDS programs in Africa that included Bible teachings.)
Why does Jim DeMint hate Christian charities?
Millions of those USAID dollars go to Billy Graham’s charities (in Haiti and elsewhere), while Franklin Graham has partnered with Sarah Palin in anticipation of the next election — going so far as to defend her from the terrible slander following the Arizona shooting.
Not to mention Greta Van Susteren, who just went to Haiti with Palin to do an hour of (exclusive!) Fox News tragedy porn for Graham’s fundraising efforts at his USAID-funded Samaritan’s Purse clinics. Susteren called their work there “inspired.” Why is the GOP trying to undermine Fox News and Sarah Palin? Cut USAID? It’s almost like they need a Karl Rove to run strategy again.
Also, just a bit of advice to the GOP: don’t tell North Dakotan beet farmers about murdering the USDA Sugar Program until after you pick up Kent Conrad’s Senate seat in 2012.
Abe Sauer can be reached at abesauer [at] gmail.com.