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Biden's $12Bln Ukraine Aid is Trap for GOP as Dems Can Boast Zero Accomplishments, Say Analysts

CC0 / / US Congress
US Congress - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.09.2022
US President Joe Biden is seeking $11.7Bln in emergency funding from Congress to provide lethal aid and budget support to Ukraine by 30 September. However, Republicans see the president's request as nothing short of a "superficial gimmick" brought forward with November mid-term elections being just weeks away.
Republican lawmakers have expressed concerns that Joe Biden's initiative is a trap for the GOP, according to Fox News. GOP congressmen suspect that the Democratic administration is deliberately pushing the $11.7Bln aid package ahead of the November mid-terms because the White House knows that some Republicans would oppose the measure since it lacks proper accountability metrics for how the money is going to be spent.
Such opposition would be used by the Democratic Party to smear their political opponents as isolationists or "lackeys of Russian President Vladimir Putin" ahead of the November mid-term, GOP lawmakers argue, including Republican Representative for Arizona, Andy Biggs, who called the apparent plan "a superficial mid-term election gimmick".

"The timing, meaning just a few weeks before the mid-term elections, is probably what Biggs was referring to as an 'election gimmick'," says Timothy Hagle, a political science professor at the University of Iowa. "That may or may not be the case, but it does seem that the administration is using its spending power to support its agenda and generally keep the Democrat voters happy. I’m not sure Ukraine is as important an issue for most voters as the economy, inflation, etc, but to the extent that it might get a push back from Republicans it might be something that Democrats can use it to take the focus off other issues where they are not as strong."

The forthcoming mid-terms threaten to strip the Dems of seats in both chambers as inflation continues to dominate the list of American voters' concerns, according to recent surveys. US inflation remains record-high despite the Federal Reserve's interest rate rises by 75 basis points in June and July. At the same time, the attempts to cool inflation led to the economic slowdown in the US with the outlook for future growth remaining generally weak, according to the Fed, as cited by Bloomberg.
President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with his Cabinet in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, July 20, 2021. From left, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Biden and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.09.2022
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GOP Should Play Economic Card To Win No Matter What

Inflation and technical recession are the GOP's trump cards in the November race, according to Professor David Woodard, Clemson University political scientist and former political consultant for Republican congressmen.

"Most Republicans can't wait for November this year," Woodard says. "They know, and the media should remember, that the economy dwarfs all other issues in an election. Ronald Reagan ended his debate with Jimmy Carter in 1980 by saying 'It might be well if you ask yourself if you are better off than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in stores than it was?' This is the winning message for the GOP, as long as they stay on message they will win - if they get distracted into a foreign policy debate (which most voters don't understand) then they are hurting their chances."

Hagle agrees that any opposition to Biden's recent Bill on the part of Republican lawmakers would most likely be smeared. The Dems are trying hard to switch attention from the Biden administration's poor economic performance to the 6 January Capitol attack, Donald Trump's alleged withholding of classified materials and the conservative-dominated Supreme Court's decision to reverse the abortion rights Bill.
Some GOP observers have drawn attention to the fact that the multi-billion-dollar aid package for Ukraine popped up after Biden's recent attempt to paint MAGA Republicans as a threat to democracy in his 1 September speech, according to Fox News.
"The Democrats are trying to get voters thinking about their 'accomplishments' when they don't have any," says Woodard. "The GOP should focus on the economy, and if the issue of Ukraine military support comes up, they can do whatever they think is best (...) and voters will not hold them responsible because the electorate has another issue that is larger than this one foreign policy vote. The purists want to talk about how to vote on this matter, but the pragmatists know that it is not a problem for them."
Ukrainian soldiers move a U.S.-supplied M777 howitzer into position   - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.08.2022
How Ukrainians Sell NATO-Supplied Weapons Abroad

White House's Spending Spree and Lack of Accountability

Another issue which concerns Republicans concerning Biden's new Ukraine aid package is the government's spending spree.

"Much as there is general support for Ukraine, there is a concern, mostly among those on the political right, that there are limits to the amount of financial support we can provide," explains Hagle. "Those concerns are usually related to the debt and deficit. Deficit spending seems to have expanded of late. During the height of the pandemic it seemed like such spending was necessary to keep the US economy from collapsing. Additional spending, such as the student loan forgiveness plan, does not seem as necessary and, as Republicans would argue, is little more than a way to keep the Democrats’ base happy and divert attention from the various problems facing the Biden administration."

In addition to that, some American conservatives warn that a seemingly endless supply of aid to Ukraine could eventually draw the US more deeply into the Russo-Ukraine conflict, according to the political scientist.
In May, Congress approved $40Bln in assistance to Ukraine which became the largest package of foreign aid passed by Congress in at least two decades, according to the New York Times. In total, 57 Republicans in the House and 11 in the Senate opposed the package, arguing that it lacked sufficient accountability measures to prevent corruption. A Republican initiative to create an inspector-general to oversee the aid was rejected by Democrats. After the Bill had been passed, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer claimed that Republicans opposing the legislation were using "the same soft-on-Putin playbook" as former President Donald Trump.
The US mainstream press acknowledged that Washington cannot trace its military aid in Ukraine with much sophisticated weaponry vanishing "in the fog of war" and risking ending up in "wrong hands". In July, Republican Representative from Indiana and a native of Ukraine, Victoria Spartz, pushed for more oversight of US aid to Kiev, slamming both Biden and Zelensky for their irresponsible approach to the Ukraine crisis. In early August, the New York Times' columnist Thomas L Friedman admitted, citing unnamed official sources, that "there is deep mistrust between the White House and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine - considerably more than has been reported."
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