9 key points on Ukraine war, aid vote

By Taxpayers Association of Oregon


I have had the chance to assess Ukraine with my own eyes when I did charity work in Ukraine in 2017 and 2023.   Even though I support Ukraine I am also a taxpayer advocate (founder of the Taxpayers Association of Oregon) who is mindful of how our tax dollars can be wasted by politicians in wartime.  This is indeed a taxpayer issues as we are being asked to choose how our tax dollars should be spent.

I list 9 key facts below that make the case for more aid but also lays out principles that can help address war critics concerns.   War is so complicated and more consequential that it demands more public debate and more working together than other issues.

#1. The public supports helping Ukraine by 71%.  Roughly 71% of Americans support funding for Ukraine according to PEW Research.

#2. Most of the funding is directed at American companies to produce the armaments Ukraine needs.  In the latest aid package, nearly two-thirds of the aid funding goes to American companies to produce armaments to provide to Ukraine.  As there is a worldwide scramble for more military supplies it is wise to keep our production alive and to keep innovating in response to technological military changes that are occurring on the front lines in real time in Ukraine, Israel and the Red Sea.   It would be good if America was more prepared for a conflict than before the pandemic because the world has changed in the past two years.

#3. Stop politicizing Ukraine funding:  For starters, aid to Ukraine aid should be a separate vote.   Adding in foreign aid funding for Taiwan and Israel only gives people more reason to vote no and blame the other issue.  During the recent critical vote and debate on the aid package, the Biden administration leaked information about Russia’s anti-satellite nuclear weapon—a move seen by many as leaking controversial military news to influence a vote.  This is a shameful display of misusing military intelligence as a political tool.   Also, Biden is neither sharing the details/goals/strategies of the war with the public nor working with both political sides to arrive at solutions.  Biden just shows up late for an aid package vote and declares whoever votes no has blood on their hands.

No politics apply to House Republicans as well.  Certain Republicans are vying to force a vote on other issues in exchange for their support of aid to Ukraine.  This time-critical issue is not the bill to do that. Furthermore, Republicans have only a slim majority of seven votes, making any such pitch a risky attempt.  What’s worse, Republicans lack unity and many keep changing what they want.  It would be helpful if they could pass bills that already have bipartisan support and public support (70%) like Ukraine funding, and then work to rally support for other issues.   House Speaker Mike Johnson has stated that aid to Ukraine is important, “We can’t allow Vladimir Putin to prevail in Ukraine, because I don’t believe it would stop there,”

#4. More transparency:  Many senators have complained of not knowing how the already-distributed funds have been spent.   We need to see where the funds are going.  The recent Ukrainian aid package was not made public until late on a weekend and followed by a hastily run vote, which is 100 percent unacceptable.

#5. Critics who say “Europe needs to do more” were 100 percent correct, and it is happening!  For the first time in decades, most NATO countries will now hit their required military spending benchmark—2 percent of GDP this year. France will exceed this goal.  Former President Donald Trump has rightly criticized their previous underfunding of key benchmarks and now they are stepping up to pay their fair share.   Germany has turned a corner as well.  At the start of Ukraine invasion, Germany was slow to provide help.   The second year of the war has alarmed German citizens after a leaked military report detailed how Russia is likely to interfere in the Baltics and Polish land bridge with Belarus.  This and other threats swayed Germany public opinion from passive to nearly 70 percent supporting more aid to Ukraine.  This sudden change in Germany signals that the nations closest to the conflict are responding to what they see as a rising threat.   Germany announced this month that it plans to build an ammunition factory with Denmark.   This is not just talk; it is actual action.  This year the Europe Union promised to deliver one million rounds of ammunition by March.  The European Union also committed $158 billion in total aid which may surpass total U.S. aid.

#6. This is an economic war.  President Reagan said, “…establishing a real peace must rest on the firm underpinning of a strong American economy. Tragically, the weakened state of Americas economy has significantly affected our ability to have the strongest possible foreign and defense policies. Maintaining our strength requires having our people in productive jobs, not in unemployment lines. It requires having our citizens confident that their future will not continue to be eroded away by incredibly high inflation and interest rates.”  President Ronald Reagan won the Cold War by fighting on two fronts: (1) increased military spending and (2) increased economic advantage by massively cutting taxes (largest in U.S. history at the time) and cutting scores of regulations.  The Soviet Union could not keep up and they collasped.  Critics of President Joe Biden’s economic sanctions say they are hurting Americans more than Russians who have found ways to escape them.  China, India, and Brazil are not abiding by the sanctions, and those three nations alone are among the top seven biggest countries in the world.

Biden approved the Russian pipeline to Germany while blocking the Keystone pipeline to America.  Biden is blocking natural gas exports, which severely hurts energy companies and deprives Europe of its energy needs (since many European countries tire of dependence on Russia for heating fuel).  Biden blocked hundreds of oil permits at home while at the same time easing regulations on Venezuelan oil and easing oil sanction enforcement on Iran.  Helping Venezuela and Iran oil industry while hurting America’s? Whose side is Biden on?

Conservatives need to accurately define cuts in taxes and regulations as a critical tactic for winning the wider war because that is exactly how Reagan did it.  Otherwise, we are trying to win a war from our poverty rather than from our prosperity.    Taxpayers will not support a war effort (even if they believe in the cause) if they are falling behind economically.

Taxpayers who asked why we are sending $100 billion in aid to Ukraine when we have unmet needs here at home have a point.  Yes, they have a point!  Biden gave trillions away to targeted industries, and people know they were left out.  They don’t need handouts; they need tax cuts, and they need less red tape, and they need it now.   the House of Representatives must vote out big tax cuts like Reagan and Trump did.  They need to significantly cut gas prices right now by reducing hidden taxes on fuel from regulations.  They need to send back to the taxpayers billions of unused Covid funds and unspent Infrastructure Act funds.   They need to close the holes in the Southern Border to stem the overcrowding of our hospitals and social services.  They need to reduce inflation by cutting red tape import/export rules that exacerbate the supply chain crisis which cause product shortages and price spikes.  They need to repeal Biden’s 7 taxes passed in the Inflation Reduction Act (oil/gas development tax, crude oil tax, coal tax, 15% corporate alternative minimum tax, stock tax, pharmaceutical excise tax, pass-through income tax change).  Doing this will create prosperity and improve the daily lives of Americans which put our nation in a better and more prosperous position to help our allies in danger.

#7. It is OK to meet voters halfway.  Congress should listen to people voicing concerns about the amount of the Ukraine aid package and where the money is being spent.  For instance, prior funding of Ukraine government pensions has divided support among the public.   Adjust the proposal to remove portions the public doesn’t like or reduce the overall amount.  Congress can always come back later.    Congress needs to build a Ukraine package acceptable to the public by addressing their concerns.

#8. Russian is indeed a threat.  In all honesty, it is extremely difficult to forecast where a war will go and whether it will escalate.  We do know Putin has publicly stated his intentions to recapture lost territories from the Cold War.  After stating those intentions, Russia increased military spending by 300% during the past 10 years.  Putin invaded Georgia in 2008, then Eastern Ukraine in 2014, then Crimea in 2014, then all of Ukraine in 2022.   When a dangerous world leader pledges to retake old territories, increases military spending by 300% and then invades three different nations, it proves that this threat is real and likely to escalate if allowed to succeed any further.  This is why leaked German intelligence warns of further advancement of Russia into the Baltic nations and into a small slice of Poland along the Suwalki Gap which would unite two Russian ally nations together.   This intelligence comes from Germany which has been among the more reluctant major European nations to involve itself in the conflict.  Poland takes this threat seriously from the very start as they have been buying up thousands of tanks and howitzers and buying as many fighter jets as they can from South Korea.

Another complication of this war for Russia is that the country is losing population.  When a nation shrinks in population, its economy shrinks as well.  This leads to an economic doom loop—where one negative economic condition triggers another—and a downward spiral that cannot be repaired easily. Rebuilding populations takes time.  Both Russia’s shrinking population and shrinking economy puts constant pressure on Putin to act dangerously.

The prize of looting Ukraine is tremendous for Russia.  Ukraine has some of the earth’s largest sites for titanium, iron ore, coal and the world’s single most coveted rare mineral — lithium.  Ukraine has massive globally dependent wheat fields and critical sea ports.    Russia can indeed reverse its downfall and greatly empower itself by pillaging this democratically ally and friend of the United States.  The loss alone is staggering but risking Russia to rebound stronger than it was before the war means everything has gotten worse from where it is right now, and then the next Russian move may be even more threatening.

#9. Ukraine has overachieved and Russia underachieved in this war.   When the 2022 invasion started, U.S military experts predicted Ukraine would fall within a week.  It did not happen.  Ukraine rallied an extremely effective and innovate fighting force despite the odds against it.  The country has reclaimed nearly half of the land it lost.    Russia has underperformed—suffering a staggering 87 percent casualty/death rate (315,000).  Russia has used mostly generations-old tanks and equipment that it cannot easily replace without considerable time and money.   One estimate puts the loss of Russian’s tanks at 3,000, which is nearly 90 percent of its prewar supplies.  When the United States invests in a proxy war, we must do annual report cards. The current report card results show Ukraine succeeded beyond what experts predicted and Russia failed beyond what was projected.  Now we are at a stalemate.  Both sides have built extensive defenses on the front-lines making any next move tenuous.   This hurts Russia just as much as it does Ukraine.

At this juncture, Europe has been doing much more to help, Ukraine has performed better than expected, Russia has endured incredible losses and remains in an extremely vulnerable position. The stakes are still high.   This is the time to continue our investment in helping Ukraine but it must be done by addressing the concerns by citizens.

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