Are U.S. taxpayers about to eat the costs of a new U.N. building?
posted at 3:57 pm on September 26, 2011 by Howard Portnoy
The plot of land being eyed for a new high-rise addition to the United Nations is currently occupied by swings and slides. But if plans go forward with construction of a new U.N. office building on Manhattan’s East Side, the cost—a hefty chunk of which could be passed along to U.S. taxpayers—will be anything but fun and games.
The site near the U.N. headquarters is currently home to the Robert Moses Playground, which has been a fixture in Midtown for the past 70 years. The Daily Caller reports that the international body is in the final stages of obtaining approval for the project, which, independent of the cost of the land and security, carries an estimated price tag of between $350 million and $475 million.
U.S. taxpayers are already responsible for 22% of the U.N.’s budget, but Heritage Foundation fellow Brett Schaefer is quoted as saying that taxpayers could be responsible for a much larger cut of the expense:
[C]onstructing a second U.N. building would likely have significant financial implications for the U.S. federal government, which … would likely shoulder increased payments to the U.N. in future years resulting from costs associated with the project. Congress has yet either to hold hearings on or to examine the details of this plan. Nor is it clear that the Obama Administration has asked for or been provided detailed information on this project.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature have already given their seal of approval to the project. The final hurdle comes on October 10 when the city and the state need to agree on a final deal.
Daily Caller writer Caroline May also quotes Meghan Clyne, managing editor of National Affairs, who wrote in a New York Post editorial last week:
The question … is why US taxpayers would pay a dime toward this project. At a time when we’re hugely in debt, and the United Nations is busy pushing Palestinian statehood and fêting Iranian nut-job Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, why should we fork over millions of dollars—and a city park—to make the United Nations’ dream of nicer, more convenient offices come true?
Former Arkansas governor and current FOX News Channel host Mike Huckabee has his own dreams for the U.N. Much to the chagrin of the Daily Kos and other left-leaning blogs, Huckabee wants to “take a jackhammer to U.N. Headquarters, kick the UN out of the US and save American taxpayers $3 billion annually.”
I think the governor is on to something (and I say this not because I sat motionless in traffic on the FDR Drive last Monday for 42 minutes, during the General Assembly’s first day of meetings). My main grievance with the U.N. has been its increasing irrelevance over the past several decades. Then there is the deaf ear its so-called Human Rights Commission has turned on victims of tyrannical regimes the world over.
I’m sure there are plenty of other cities that would be happy to play host to the U.N. Geneva springs to mind. Eliminating all the diplomat parking and freeing up spaces on the East Side of Manhattan wouldn’t be a bad thing either. Maybe the city could then recoup some of the $17.2 million it loses annually by U.N. diplomats’ refusal to pay their parking fines.
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