It’s Christmastime. President Joe Biden was attending a Toys for Tots event in Arlington, Virginia. What could possibly go wrong?
After all, Toys for Tots isn’t just patriotic — it’s run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve — it does invaluable work this time of year. Short of the president telling the kids Santa’s not real and the money for the toys was actually going to be sent over to Ukraine, what could possibly go wrong?
Well, while it wasn’t quite that kind of afternoon on Monday, Biden managed to screw it up anyhow. First, he had to be led offstage by a child after yet again failing to notice where he was supposed to go. And then, after he got offstage, he yet again acknowledged the United States is basically signing a blank check to the Ukrainian war effort, no matter how the money is being spent.
Now, this is what most people saw when it came to viral clips from the Monday event:
Biden: “Which way do we go?”
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) December 12, 2022
Yes, he does intend to run again in 2024. Why do you ask?
However, go a bit deeper in your Twitter feed and you might find a more blood-boiling interaction Biden had, this time with a reporter who asked if U.S. troops were being sent to Ukraine.
“Are we sending troops to Ukraine? No, we’re sending material, like we have,” Biden answered. “Billions of dollars.”
And then he bolted:
Biden, to a reporter: "Are we sending troops to Ukraine? No, we're sending material, like we have. Billions of dollars." pic.twitter.com/cmPe2z2I1T
— Washington Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) December 12, 2022
Biden certainly knew which way to go when he was faced with a question he didn’t like, that’s for sure.
There’s a good reason he doesn’t like the question, either. While no U.S. troops in Ukraine is a good thing — and we’ll see how Biden sticks to that pledge — American support for the war effort is getting expensive, and there’s little to no oversight in how Ukraine is allocating the resources it’s getting.
In November, the Biden administration asked Congress for another $37.7 billion in spending for Ukraine, according to The Associated Press.
“We are urging the Congress to provide additional appropriations to ensure Ukraine has the funding, weapons and support it needs to defend itself and that vulnerable people continue to receive lifesaving aid,” wrote Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
This would mean that, in just under a year, the United States would have spent $104 billion on aid to Kyiv — almost $700 per U.S. taxpayer.
Anyone who questions this level of spending invariably gets accused of Putinist sympathies, but there are a few big problems with this kind of wallet-open policy toward Ukraine.
First, what exactly is our endgame in Ukraine? The idea of peace talks hasn’t been breached. Absent that, there are two options: Keep spending to hold Russia to a stalemate, or give Ukraine enough resources, financially and militarily, that Moscow is finally forced to withdraw.
Both of those options, however, are prohibitively expensive. Don’t expect answers from Biden, either, since he’s not saying anything that should give Americans hope any end is in sight. And it doesn’t help that UkrainePresident Volodymyr Zelenskyy wants more than he’s already getting.
An October report from NBC News claimed that, during a June phone call describing the latest aid package to Ukraine, “Biden had barely finished telling Zelenskyy he’d just greenlighted another $1 billion in U.S. military assistance for Ukraine when Zelenskyy started listing all the additional help he needed and wasn’t getting.”
“Biden lost his temper, the people familiar with the call said. The American people were being quite generous, and his administration and the U.S. military were working hard to help Ukraine, he said, raising his voice, and Zelenskyy could show a little more gratitude,” the report continued.
(The NBC report, presumably based on White House sources, is clearly slanted to cast Biden in the best possible light. It doesn’t help the case much.)
And then there’s the lack of accountability for where money and weapons are going. In June, The Wall Street Journal reported that “current and former U.S. officials warn that more must be done to ensure arms and money aren’t diverted, stolen or misused.”
“Since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, speeding support to Kyiv, which has fought back fiercely, has taken precedence in Congress and the White House over establishing new oversight mechanisms,” the Journal noted.
“We’ve been moving fast and hard, and we haven’t had time, in my view, to reflect on that,” said GOP Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, according to the Journal. The report pointed out that Rogers is a supporter of Ukraine.
That reflection might come with a new Congress; in November, the Daily Caller noted, a group of House Republicans announced legislation that would audit U.S. funding for Ukraine.
The resolution is authored by Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, with co-sponsorship from GOP Reps. Barry Moore of Alabama, Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar of Arizona, Matt Gaetz and Greg Steube of Florida, Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Clay Higgins of Louisiana, and Dan Bishop of North Carolina.
According to the Daily Caller, Greene said “the American people deserve [to know] where their hard-earned tax dollars are going to a foreign country who is not a member of NATO and President Biden himself said he would not defend.”
If they’re going to get those answers, they certainly won’t be coming from President Joe Biden — at least, not to judge by how quickly he bolted when he was asked about Ukraine.