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Deadbeat Uncle

Congress and President Clinton appear to believe they have repealed the ancient wisdom that two wrongs don't make a right.

Both branches of the US government claim they want to pay America's long tardy UN dues. But they've managed to cancel doing so.

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Congress commited the first wrong by attaching a sabotage proviso to its bill belatedly paying nearly $1 billion in UN arrears. The booby trap was an unrelated amendment banning federal funds for international family planning organizations because some of their advice may support abortion.

The president then compounded the congressional sabotage by vetoing the UN dues payment bill. That's akin to destroying the village in order to save it. The White House redeemed its action somewhat by finding enough money to pay the minimum needed to stave off loss of US voting rights at the UN. That at least avoided a repetition of the 1960s stalemate in which the General Assembly held no votes because the Soviet Union for awhile refused to pay back dues.

The current Congress-White House standoff means that many of the diverse UN activities that help the world work better will remain underfunded. Even close US allies are disgusted.

When the next congress meets, constituents should press its members to keep the issues of UN dues and abortion separate.

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