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PAUL: A coup is a coup is a coup — in Egypt, too

Lavishing treasure on foreign tyrants when Americans need help isn’t very smart

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This week, the Senate voted to continue sending taxpayer dollars to Egypt, illegally. I offered an amendment that would take this $1.5 billion that is being sent abroad and reallocate it to nation-building here in America. The senators who voted against my amendment voted to violate the rule of law.

Aside from violating the law, they sent a clear message: Sending money overseas is more important than allocating these funds toward America's infrastructure. Many American cities are now merely desolate skeletons of what they once were. Detroit, for example, lies in ruins, with 50,000 feral dogs roaming the city. Abandoned houses litter the landscape. It is a bleak and forlorn future that awaits Detroit. Creditors clamor for their share of $20 billion in debt. As a proud citizen, I sit and wonder how this has happened.

President Obama sends billions of dollars to Egypt in the form of advanced fighter jets and tanks. Meanwhile, cities like Detroit and Chicago crumble. In 2012, more people died in Chicago than in Afghanistan. Yet the president insists on building a $34 million fort for the Afghans. As secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton insisted on building an $80 million consulate in Afghanistan that will never be used. Few on Capitol Hill oppose the billions of dollars we send overseas.

In the case of aiding Egypt, the law is clear. When a military coup overturns a democratically elected government, all military aid must end. So when the military coup occurred in Egypt, how did the president respond? How did Congress respond?

The president and his cohorts in Congress responded by shoveling good money after bad into the failed state of Egypt. The president and his cohorts in Congress are intent on building nations abroad. I believe it's time we do some nation-building at home.

I propose we take the $1.5 billion we give to Egypt and spend it at home, building bridges and roads in America.

As our bridges collapse in states such as Washington, Minnesota and Kentucky, politicians in Washington continue to send taxpayer money to buy tanks and planes for foreign countries — countries such as Egypt, which recently allowed a mob to advance on our embassy and burn our flag. I say not one penny more to countries that burn the American flag.

In between cashing American checks, Egypt finds time to convict 16 Americans of trumped-up political crimes. Luckily for these Americans, they fled before Egypt could imprison them. But how do the establishment politicians respond? They simply send more money. When will they realize that you can't send good money after bad into the failed state of Egypt? This aid is counterproductive.

Egypt already has more planes and tanks than any other country on the African continent, and I fear one day, these arms may be used against Israel or America.

According to a Gallup Poll from last year, 70 percent of Egyptians don't want our aid. To understand why, you must understand that American aid doesn't go to the Egyptian people. It goes to the despots that run Egypt.

Protesters in Cairo have difficulty loving American aid while they are being doused with tear gas made in Pennsylvania and paid for with American tax dollars. Foreign aid is more likely to buy a lavish chateau in Paris than it is to buy bread in Egypt.

As Detroit decays, as Chicago is overrun with violence, as Americans struggle to put food on the table, Hosni Mubarak and his family dined on caviar and champagne.

The president claims to feel the pain of the middle class. He promised us hope and change, but hope and change turned out to be just a slogan. While American cities decay and descend into bankruptcy, the Democratic president, like so many Republicans before him, continues to send American tax dollars overseas.

The law clearly states that after a military coup overturns an elected government, military aid must stop. Only a fool or a demagogue would attempt to argue that the military junta in Egypt is not a coup. In a remarkable bit of sophistry, the president admits that the law does indeed mandate an end to military aid when a coup takes place, but it doesn't force him to decide whether it's a coup or not.

So if the president refuses to acknowledge that it's a coup, then it's not yet an "acknowledged" coup, and the aid can go on indefinitely. All Americans should be outraged and insulted by such blatant shirking of the law. Either we are a nation of laws or we are not. Will we obey the law or not?

We presume to tell the world how to behave, to criticize Egypt for not obeying the rule of law — all legitimate concerns. Yet the president blithely ignores our own law. If we choose to ignore our own laws, can we with a straight face preach to the world about the rule of law? If we pick and choose which laws to obey, what message does that send?

I say to all Americans — Democrats, independents and Republicans — enough is enough. We aren't going to take it anymore. My amendment gave everyone a chance to put their money where their mouths are, to answer the question: Do you care about America? Do you care about repairing American infrastructure? Or do you care more about sending money to a dictatorship in Egypt?

I think the choice is clear, and the American people agree. We should not send money overseas to people who hate us, to people who burn our flag. It is time to prioritize. There is a finite amount of money, and we can't fund everything.

My amendment would have addressed some of the needs we have here at home, as opposed to violating the law and sending American taxpayer dollars to Egypt.

Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Homeland Security committees.

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