Whether you love or hate the United Nations, one thing all Americans ought to be able to agree on is that sloshing billions of American tax dollars into the UN, with little accountability and regardless of UN performance, is a chump’s game. I’d even suggest it is no favor at all to the UN itself — corroding its incentives for decent behavior, and swaddling its staff and offices in plush sinecures that are increasingly catching the attention of financially strapped American taxpayers, who pick up the biggest share of the UN tab.
Yet the chief effort currently on the table to reform the UN — Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s “United Nations Transparency, Accountability and Reform Act of 2011″ — is playing in Washington as an utterly partisan issue. There are so far 98 co-sponsors for this bill, and not a single Democrat among them.
Why’s that? The Hill reports that according to Rose-Lehtinen, the Obama administration is telling Democrats to stay away from her bill. The bill seeks to clean up the UN by revamping some of its financial incentives — basically proposing to condition a substantial share of U.S. money on UN performance. This would include potentially withholding some of the assessed dues with which the UN General Assembly bankrolls its self-approved and ever-expanding budgets, for which the U.S. dutifully pays 22%. The administration’s argument against this approach takes the line that if America stops automatically dispensing money at the UN’s demand, it would reduce U.S. influence and ability to reform the UN.