The Rosett Report

Record-Busting U.S. Spending on the United Nations

While President Obama exhorts American taxpayers to tighten their belts, and the U.S. flirts with default, the United Nations is setting new records for spending American money. The White House’s Office of Management and Budget has produced its latest report, required by Congress, on U.S. contributions to the UN. For the 2010 fiscal year, the U.S. bankrolled the UN to the tune of $7.69 billion. As the Heritage Foundation’s Brett Schaefer notes, that’s a “staggering 21 percent increase over FY2009.”

It’s also more than double the $3.539 which U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, in testimony this April to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, implied was the rough amount of U.S. annual spending on the UN.

The rise in U.S. contributions reflects soaring UN budgets over the past decade, to which the U.S. has been the biggest contributor. The exact percentage of UN activity funded by the U.S. varies, depending on which part of the UN we’re talking about. But browsing the OMB report can give you a pretty good idea of how big a hunk of the UN tab is bankrolled by American taxpayers. Scroll down in the report to page 2, where you can discover that the U.S. in fiscal 2010 bankrolled 27.3% of all UN peacekeeping, 22% of the regular budget, 33.6% of the World Food Program, and 26.5% of the budget of the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA).

What’s America getting for all this money? One seat, with one vote, in a 192-member General Assembly dominated by the largely anti-American preferences of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the G-77 plus China. One permanent seat on the Security Council, alongside veto-wielding China (which contributes a mere 3.189% of the UN’s regular budget) and Russia (which contributes 1.6%). And such privileges as a chance to rub elbows with the likes of Iran and Cuba on the governing board of the UN’s flagship agency, the UN Development Program (UNDP). Plus the endless circus act in which the UN promises transparency, better oversight and more efficient management — and delivers soaring budgets, opaque finances and bubbling scandals. All those American billions now pouring into the UN had their origins in work done by Americans, who earned that money, and then had it taxed away by government — and turned over to the UN. Given a choice, could those taxpayers perhaps find better uses for their dollars?