Ron Paul Questions Hillary Clinton on $1 Billion London “Fortress”

At today’s House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Ron Paul asked Hillary Clinton how she can justify spending $1 billion to build a “fortress” in London while Americans are hurting economically.

Location: House Foreign Affairs Committee
Date: 02/25/2010

Ron Paul: Welcome, Madam Secretary. I have a question about the cost of our foreign operations. We are now in the midst of a financial crisis. We have a heavy burden of debt, we know what debt can do. Greece is experiencing that type of problem and we could reach that problem I believe if we continue to do what we’re doing.

The international affairs budget ten years ago was $23 billion, now it’s $54 billion, that’s a tremendous increase and that’s not all from this administration obviously. But during that same period of time, the real wages of most American workers have gone down and the unemployment rate now according to the labor department, the underemployment is 20% so this is nothing to ignore and it is related to all our spending.

And a lot of Americans can’t justify the amount of money we’re spending both in the war effort and in our affairs around the world. And quite frankly, there’s some that don’t feel a lot safer for it. But there’s a human price that we’re paying. We’ve lost over 5,000 Americans in fighting these wars, over 1,000 now in Afghanistan alone. There are hundreds of thousands of casualties, veterans coming back with both physical and mental problems. They are going to be needing care for many, many years.

The cost of all this is probably in the last 10 years, could easily be $1.5 trillion dollars. Also, there’s the refugee problem. We have hundreds of thousands of refugees still experiencing difficulties both in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Just this very last month, 24,000 refugees were added into Afghanistan. Yesterday, we had a report from the United Nations that there were 346 children killed in Afghanistan so the violence affects everybody and that truly is a cost.

But the more specific question I have for you is one of priorities. Obviously here in Congress everybody justifies their spending, the people here justify their domestic spending and people justify the overseas spending and the war spending, and they worry about not having enough bipartisanship. I worry about too much because they get together and they enjoy spending both places and nobody cares about the deficit.

I want to specifically ask you about the embassy in London because people could see that and they can feel it. We built an embassy in Baghdad that cost close to a billion dollars. We built one in Kabul that cost almost a billion dollars and there’s always cost overruns and then the maintenance is very, very expensive. I think the American people have a hard time understanding what we’re doing in London.

Assume for a minute that you could come to my district and talk to some of my unemployed people and explain to them why it’s in their interest for the American people to spend a billion dollars building a fortress in London when they are falling through the cracks and their wages have gone down, the ones that have work. See if you can relate to them and explain to them the importances… in a way, you’d have to say to them that that billion dollars will have to be more debt, because where are you going to save it? Could you explain that to these unemployed people?

Hillary Clinton: Well Congressman, with respect to the embassy, we are selling 11 sites that we currently rent at very high cost in London to consolidate in one building, and therefore the money that we gain from the sale of these buildings will be used to fund the embassy, so we’re not asking for additional or new money. And the reason we need a platform like that embassy in London is because we do so much work in every department of our government through London. It’s not just our diplomats but obviously every other part of the American government is represented there.

So I believe I can make the case that we’re not asking for new money on that, but I take very seriously your larger point, Congressman. It breaks my heart that ten years ago we had a balanced budget, that we were on the way of paying down the debt of the United States of America. I served on the Budget Committee in the Senate and I remember as vividly as it were yesterday, when we had a hearing in which Alan Greenspan came and justified increasing spending and cutting taxes saying that we really didn’t need to pay down the debt. Outrageous, in my view.

Ron Paul: Excuse me, I’d like to interrupt quickly to ask you, is there any place in your budget that you could cut anything significant?

Hillary Clinton: We are cutting. A part of our problem is that we are now assuming so many of the post-conflict responsibilities and that is the bulk of our increase, Congressman.


  • Yvonne

    Ron Paul is brilliant because he is honest and he is right.
    Did you notice how he reacted when hillary tried to divert attention to the bush administration. she started to praise her actions from earlier years and to make it sound like she agrees with the congressmen.
    His response was brilliant. he politely brought the discussion back to the present.
    He basically asked her ”what about what you are doing today”
    What a decent way he responded to someone whose manipulative double-talk inspires anger.
    I just love him.
    he’s more than a leader. i think he is a good role model. i would be proud of all american children especially my own if they would behave like him.

  • Yvonne

    Hillary Clinton is justifying the 1,000,000,000 dollar purchase by saying ”we sold some other things so we have the money”.
    Why couldn’t they sell those other things and give the proceeds BACK to the tax payers.
    If i were given a choice i would want her to sell anything and everything we have overseas.
    She is saying we can do that. she is saying we have buildings or things we can sell. so do it! sell more buildings. sell everything.
    Then give americans the money. use it to create jobs. build things in our country with the money and hire our citizens. it’s our tax money after all.
    She may as well be Marie Antoinette.
    People are jobless and she says ”well we had the money. we got it by selling some of our other valuables. we’re just juggling our own wealth”
    But it really isn’t theirs because it belongs to american tax payers.

  • Kilo

    Ms. Clinton says “The reason we need a platform like that embassy in London is because we do so much work in every department of our government through London. It’s not just our diplomats, but obviously every other part of the American government is represented there.” Really? Exactly which government departments are operating in London and why is that necessary. I would like a list of them and an explaination of the work they are doing.This situation certainly has not been disclosed to the American public. I was under the misconception that an embassy was “the offical residence or offices of an ambassador in a foreign country” and the ambassador’s job was to be “the highest ranking diplomatic representative appointed by one country or government to represent it in another.” Atleast that is what Webster’s dictionary says.It did not state that departments of our government should or would be operating out of an embassy. This is very disturbing.The government group thinks they can do any thing they want, where ever they want. This is not government by and for the people.I feel the government really believes these things are none of our business. How wrong they are.

  • hytwq

    How do you sell rented facilities??
    I wish I could sell the places I’ve RENTED
    How does that work??

  • Tech

    The American revolution was basically against the Bank of England but since 1913 when the FED/IRs scam was foisted on us we have gone down hill. First of all this “money” the private bankers pay us loses value constantly through inflation and all our Federal Taxes are yes collected by an agency of the “government” but the money is always deposited into their private banks. The bankers then take that and lend out maybe 40 times that and charge everyone interest on it creating money out of thin air. We were promised by the bankers a more stable system if they took over control of ALL our money? Well sorry to say I think they lied and have used this power to create booms and busts, control business and the “government” and now it has led to a disaster. They are so used to their power they thumb their noses at Congress and the people while passing out BILLIONS to themselves in bonus money. BONUS MONEY??? for what? Now most folks I know think to heck with these bums bullets are cheaper than bailouts but I’m reasonable and think we just need to end the FED/IRS scam, the fraud, lobbying, the CIA boys and restore the rule of law and our constitution and rebuild this country. The first folks who should be bailed out should always be the people not some banksters. Seems they just got too big for their britches as the saying goes. If we had let them go bankrupt they might have had to get real jobs instead of stealing from honest folks. Where’s the sherriff? And we don’t need to spend a billion dollars in England to kiss up to the Queen of England. One million tops should take care of anything. If not let them come over here to do business!

  • I just hope that when we do kick the bums out! That the new people we elect don’t act like them!

  • Susan Harkins

    If you guys really do want to control costs — vote out these guys. It’s not the London embassy (or any building for that matter) that is the root of the cost — its the people (politicians) that are endorsing these costly projects at your expense. Did Hillary and company ever call YOU up and ask if you would be ok with another $420 tax hike to pay for the London Fortress? No — they think that you have nothing to say about it. Just pay for it and shut up, is their motto. Don’t you love feeling needed?

  • Susan Harkins

    As usual, Hillary is already trying to spend U.S. taxpayer money (in other countries again) on the justification that savings created AFTER THE FACT, will pay for the expense. Once again, the cart is before the horse, since the astronomical costs will come BEFORE other sites are closed down. Do not believe what she tells you — these other sites WILL NOT be closed down, after the new embassy is ‘open for business’. In the end, we will be paying for ALL sites. Rule #1 for these sorts of corrupt liberal polititians: THEY NEVER SHRINK GOVT — it is against their better interest.

  • Hillary is more effective than Condi! Because she has more accurate information! & I don’t dislike her because she’s a woman! It’s something else that she said when she was running for president!

  • I meant when her hubby Billy passed that crappy NORTH AMERICAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT! (CRAFTA #1) & THAT IDIOT BUSH PASSED THE CENTRAL AMERICAN FREETRADE AGREEMENT(CRAPTA)! AS I LIKED TO CALL IT! Which both sent our jobs overseas! Looks like there will be more job killing free trade agreements that Obama may pass!

  • F

    I don’t undrestand why you dislike Hillary, maybe she has spoken the truth? or because she is a woman? or because she wants to be a leader that counts for her ideas rather than to follow a script? or is it something about the ‘liberal propaganda’? or Is it a public relations effect?

    If the last is allowed to take over the population every one will be in trouble because you will just be living a permanent fantasy that might even be damaging.

    Any bad, fake leader could go up and screw the majority, even the so called ‘elites’ are in trouble, so we might as well get back to reality and look at the economy system that is needed, look at the examples of each system that did work or caused problems, AND develop a system that works.

    Where are the experts in the field?

    I don’t get it, what have you done to the people and the world?

  • Umi

    Hillary adequately parried Rep. Paul’s jabs at her. As she stated NO new monies would be spent on the new US Embassy in London. The monies will come from the sale of several buildings we are presently renting in London.

    This lady is FAR more effective than Condoleeza was.

  • Umi

    We DID have a surplus when Bubba left office. You know WHO quickly squandered THAT. The same one that failed in every business venture he was involved in and had his cronies bail his behind out. Oh, you mean the CRAPTA that GHW Bush signed.

    (Following diplomatic negotiations dating back to 1991 between the three nations, the leaders met in San Antonio, Texas, on December 17, 1992, to sign NAFTA. U.S. President George H.W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Mexican President Carlos Salinas, each responsible for spearheading and promoting the agreement, ceremonially signed it. The agreement then needed to be ratified by each nation’s legislative or parliamentary branch.

    Before the negotiations were finalized, Bill Clinton came into office in the U.S. and Kim Campbell in Canada, and before the agreement became law, Jean Chrétien had taken office in Canada.)

  • Susan Harkins

    NEWS ALERT: SECOND AMENDMENT NOW BEING NULLIFIED. Prominent Politician now engaged in circumventing U.S. Constitution (Bill of Rights) by establishing a binding treaty between U.S. and other countries. Since ratified treaties supersede individual rights, protected in the Constitution, the ‘Treaty Route’ is being employed to nullify the Second Amendment. Details developing —

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just announced the Obama Administration would be working hand in glove with the UN to pass a new “Small Arms Treaty.” Disguised as legislation to help in the fight against “terrorism,” “insurgency” and “international crime syndicates,” the UN Small Arms Treaty is a massive, GLOBAL gun control plan. Ultimately, the UN’s Small Arms Treaty is designed to register, ban and CONFISCATE firearms owned by private citizens.

  • Beat her at her own game Dr. Paul! I never trusted that woman! She is no good! Her husband did a good job with the economy until he passed that CRAPTA! She is one reason why too generous of a country to give! & Not thinking about us here in America!

  • Libertarian777

    oh shush Hillary.
    “We are cutting”… blah blah blah, doesn’t answer the question.

    10 years ago we had a surplus. That was BS. That surplus came about at what cost? The current cost we have. The only reason the government had a surplus was due to the capital gains taxes and taxes on the trading profits of companies, due to the dot com bubble. Congress had already planned to spend that surplus away. Please note, there was a budget surplus, they had NEVER at ANY POINT paid off the NATIONAL DEBT in the last 30 years.

    Dot com bubble crashed and what happened? tax receipts fell, spending stayed where it was, Greenspan opened the cash gates and money went into real estate. Lo and behold 10 years later we’re in a depression.