The Brits Have This One Exactly Right

It seems fiscal exigency has a way of clarifying priorities and imposing accountability.

At least, that’s what it seems across the pond, as David Cameron’s Conservative government in Great Britain has taken a hard look at the United Nations and started putting the kibosh on some of its expenditures there.

In a sweeping and hard-nosed reorganization of priorities for its $10.6 billion multilateral foreign aid program, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government of Prime Minister David Cameron has pulled the financial plug entirely on four U.N. agencies at the end of next year, put three others judged merely “adequate” on notice that they could face the same fate unless they improve their performance “as a matter of absolute urgency;” and issued pointed criticisms of almost all the rest.

Cameron’s government is increasing its support for UNICEF, but otherwise it’s bad news at Turtle Bay.

The review and recissions come at a great time here in the States, as the House Republicans are about to swing a heavy ax at the $6.3 billion America contributes to the UN. The Obama administration knows it, which is why it’s sending UN ambassador Susan Rice all over the country to tout all the great value we’re getting for our money there.

It’s not a good idea for the president to fight Congress on UN spending cuts. Some 75 percent of Americans want to see a reduction in expenditures for foreign aid, and only 31 percent of us think the UN is doing a good job. Drastic cuts in our contribution to the UN are almost a no-brainer when you’re running a $1.6 trillion budget deficit, so it will be a real loser for Obama to fight what the Republicans come up with.

Frankly, if the administration was smart they’d get out in front of this issue and send a package of reductions to the House as a recommendation, and couch that recommendation as a move to the center. So far it doesn’t look like they’ll take that action.

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