Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Do Romney, Perry, Gingrich want to zero out aid to Israel?

Barack Obama's re-election campaign has criticized the records of some of the Republican presidential candidates on funding for Israel. How accurate is the charge?
Barack Obama's re-election campaign has criticized the records of some of the Republican presidential candidates on funding for Israel. How accurate is the charge?

Do three Republican presidential candidates favor "zeroing out" aid to Israel?

That’s the hot-button claim that Barack Obama’s reelection campaign makes on an outreach page on its website.
   
"Stand against ‘zeroing out’ aid to Israel," the web page says. "Republican candidates for president Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and Newt Gingrich all say they would cut foreign aid to Israel — and every other country — to zero. Stand up to this extreme isolationism and join the call to reject the Romney-Perry-Gingrich plan."

The claim flows from a series of statements made at a Nov. 12, 2011, foreign-policy debate among the Republican presidential candidates.

It’s true that the the proposal, offered initially by Perry and then seconded by Gingrich and Romney, would reduce aid to zero, but only temporarily (and theoretically) as a starting point for discussions about what the final level should be, not an end point. As Perry put it, "And then we'll have a conversation." The new policy could just as easily leave Israel with higher funding rather than lower.
   
In addition, to varying degrees, the candidates pledged that they personally would either advocate "substantial" funding for Israel (Perry), an exemption from the policy for Israel (Romney), or an automatic waiver due to agreements already in force (Gingrich). None of the candidates actually said he supported making Israel’s funding level zero.
   
Finally, the Obama campaign misleadingly used the term "zeroing out" instead of accurately describing it as "zero-based" budgeting. We found the claim to be a ridiculous distortion and rated it Pants on Fire.