Earlier this month, I flew to Israel to join Senator Rand Paul on a fact-finding tour. It‚??s his first visit to Israel, my third. Senator Paul is a new member of the powerful Foreign Relations Committee, so he got first class treatment, meeting privately with Prime Minister Netanyahu, the mayor of Jerusalem, and the King of Jordan, as well as military and business leaders.
Being primarily a religious group of about 50 evangelical Christians, our tour group visited at all the major tourist spots, including the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River, the Dead Sea, Masada, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem. We stayed at a hotel right on the Sea of Galilee run by a kibbutz. In the hotel room, the management announced that the hotel used to be a traditional kibbutz, where everyone was paid the same salary and had everything in common, but now had switched to a “private” market to provide incentives and keep the younger generation from leaving.
I witnessed first hand how Israel has made significant progress economically over the past 30 years, largely by gradually abandoning socialism and adopting market-friendly reforms. Meanwhile, other Middle Eastern countries like Egypt show no improvement at all.
One of the major issues on the trip was foreign aid to Israel. Senator Paul told me that he has two major objections to foreign aid. First, we can’t afford it, given our huge and growing national debt.
Second, more importantly, foreign aid in the Middle East is leading to an arms race. ‚??If the US gives 20 F-16 fighter planes to Egypt, Israel then feels it needs to buy 25,” he said.
In fact, according to the senator, the U.S. gives more aid to Israel‚??s neighbors than to Israel. “We taxpayers are subsidizing the hate-filled propaganda put out by the radical Palestinians about America,” he said.
Senator Paul wants to gradually reduce and eventually eliminate foreign aid to Israel and the Palestinians. In his talk to us on the tour, he cited a speech given by Prime Minister Netanyahu several years ago arguing for the end of aid from the United States.
Unfortunately, Senator Paul’s end-foreign-aid bill has no chance of passage due to the argument that giving money to both sides creates a “balance of power.” It’s madness.
He and his wife Kelley and his staff who accompanied us expressed enthusiasm about coming to FreedomFest this July (www.freedomfest.com), and our new theme “Are We Rome?” Paul is deeply worried that we are headed in the wrong direction and that, like Rome, the United States is sinking into a slow-growth economy and a destructive vicious cycle of tax-inflate-spend-and-regulate.
Senator Paul noted that in two years many States will go bankrupt due to the dramatic rise in Medicare/Medicaid costs, which was part of Obamacare. The Feds pick up the tab for the expanded Medicaid for the first two years, then the states have to pay. It’s scary where we are headed.
Personally, I found Senator Paul and his family friendly and fun to be around. We discussed politics, economics, religion, and his personal interests (he’s an avid biker, for example). He is always thoughtful and more practical a politician (less ideological) than his father, Ron Paul, and that’s why he is going places….He‚??s a senator, not just a representative, and a potential pro-libertarian presidential candidate who could actually win. I hope he runs. He’s the real deal.