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Angie Drobnic Holan
By Angie Drobnic Holan February 4, 2011

Rand Paul says Israel's per capita income "is greater than probably three-fourths of the rest of the world."

House Republicans have released a plan to cut the budget, but Rand Paul says they need to cut even more.

House GOP leaders proposed cuts of $58 billion per year. Paul, a Republican senator from Kentucky and a tea party favorite, has a plan that cuts $500 billion.

Paul's plan includes cutting all foreign aid, including about $3 billion in annual aid to Israel. Cutting aid to Israel has got some of his fellow conservatives unhappy, but Paul isn't backing down.

"I'm not singling out Israel. I'm a supporter of Israel," Paul said. "I want to be known as a friend of Israel, but you can't give money you don't have. We can't just borrow from our kids' future and give it to countries, even if they are our friends."

Paul added that, "They're an important ally, but I also think that their per capita income is greater than probably three-fourths of the rest of the world. Should we be giving free money or welfare to a rich nation? I don't think so."

Paul added that Israel has defense capabilities already that are ahead of the country's potential enemies.

Paul's phrasing suggested some uncertainty about Israel's wealth, so we decided to check it out.

We discovered that there are several ways to calculate per capita income by country. The two major indicators we consulted showed that Israel was safely in the top 25 percent.

The World Bank calculates per capita income two ways. One accounts for purchasing power and one doesn't. Purchasing power means that the measurement takes into account how goods are priced in a particular country. The World Bank statistics covered about 160 countries and territories.

If you consider purchasing power, in 2009 Israel was No. 25 on the list of countries, with per capita income of $27,110. No. 1 was Luxembourg with $59,550. The United States was No. 5 with $45,640.

If you don't consider purchasing power, Israel is No. 23, at $25,790. On this measure, Norway is No. 1 at $84,640, and the United States is No. 8 at $46,360.

Either way, Israel makes the top 40, which puts it in the top 25 percent of the World Bank listings.

Seeking the broadest possible measure, though, we looked for a more widespread account of how many countries there are in the world. The United Nations, for example, says it has 192 members. Other sources note that the independence of some countries is contested, so the number can shift depending on world events to anywhere between 191 and 196 countries. So even by the larger number of countries, Israel would still be in the top 25 percent.

We find Paul's statement True.

Featured Fact-check

Our Sources

ABC News, Rand Paul Says Republicans 'Aren't Maybe Brave Enough' to Tackle Deficit, Feb. 4, 2011

The World Bank, GNI per capita, PPP (current international $), accessed Feb. 4, 2011

The World Bank, GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$), accessed Feb. 4, 2011

The United Nations, UN at a glance, accessed Feb. 4, 2011

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Members and partners, accessed Feb. 4, 2011

U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Budget, Fact Sheet: The Fiscal Year 2011 Discretionary Spending Allocation to the Appropriations Committee, Feb. 3, 2011

Rand Paul Senate website, Senator Paul Introduces $500 Billion in Spending Cuts, Jan. 25, 2011


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Rand Paul says Israel's per capita income "is greater than probably three-fourths of the rest of the world."

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