U.S. Taxes Subsidize Ukrainian Small Businesses as Americans Continue to Struggle

us aid ukraine small business
President.gov.ua, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

A recent 60 Minutes spot meant to highlight what the American tax dollars are paying for in Ukraine uncovered some details that were likely unknown to most citizens. We’ve all read, and I’ve extensively reported on, the copious amounts of dollars sent to Ukraine focused on military equipment and training.

But what needed to be more widely known was the amount of money used on nonmilitary “aid” for Ukraine. Money that is rightfully that of the American taxpayer. 

It seems only fair to shine a bright light on this new information; after all, every law-abiding tax-paying citizen has a right to know what their hard-earned cash is funding. Let’s dive into the details behind this “righteous” war effort.

Paying Ukrainian bills

In addition to the massive amounts of military aid our politicians have shoveled to Ukraine in what is approaching the third year of the proxy war against Russia, 60 Minutes discovered that we’ve also been paying for nonmilitary items. For example, the United States government has been purchasing seeds and fertilizer for Ukrainian farmers.

Additionally, your tax dollars are being used to pay for the salaries of Ukraine’s entire first responder workforce, which sits at about 57,000 Ukrainians. We also pay the wages of the divers who clear unexploded ammunition from rivers and lakes.

My favorite nugget, however, as a former small business owner who had to shut down shop earlier this year due to the economy, was that the United States government has used my tax dollars to subsidize Ukrainian small businesses. In total, the United States has sent just shy of $25 billion in this sort of nonmilitary aid to Ukraine.

During the episode 60 Minutes reporter Holly Williams linked up with Senator Lindsey Graham during his visit to Ukraine to ask what he says to Americans worried about the cost of this war.

Senator Graham said:

“People ask me, ‘Is it worth it?’ Here’s what we’ve gotten for our investment. We haven’t lost one soldier. We reduced the combat power of the Russian army by 50%, and not one of us has died in the endeavor. This is a great deal for America.”

Let’s talk about investing and deals for a spell.

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Where’s my great deal?

The harsh reality of the American dream today is that for most of us, it will remain a dream. Being able to buy a home, provide for your family, maybe even create some independent generational wealth through entrepreneurial endeavors, and retire comfortably was what American dreams were made of.

Now, most of us are happy to break even each month and hope that we can keep that trend going. A whopping 61% of Americans are currently living paycheck-to-paycheck 

Of those living from one pay period to the next, 8 in 10 who earn less than $50,000 a year cannot cover future bills. Hold onto your hats, reader, because 4 in 10 earning over $100,000 a year are in the same boat.

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Let’s break down some more specific numbers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay in this country is $4,766 a month before taxes.

The BLS breaks down the average of mandatory monthly costs as follows:

  • $1,510 for one-bedroom rent
  • $690 for food
  • $900 for transportation expenses
  • $450 for health care

That means that in a month, the median mandatory expenses for a U.S. taxpayer is $3,550. That’s not a lot of leftover cheddar from that paycheck that still needs taxes taken out to send to Ukrainian farmer Bob for seeds.

Insult to injury

It’s the last week of September, which means talk of government shutdown. Each year, we go through this same song and dance where the left and the right can’t come together to pass a budget, and everyone wigs out about a government shutdown.

I was in the military for two sizeable shutdowns. In 2013, I was deployed overseas when the 17-day shutdown occurred.

Military flights were curtailed, many operations shut down, and even military member’s pay was delayed due to the shutdown. I experienced a similar shutdown in 2019, but military pay wasn’t touched that time.

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The Pentagon can carve out special projects to make them exempt from a government shutdown, and they have announced that in the event of such a shuttering of the federal government operations that support to Ukraine will continue. While I generally agree that our government is bloated and could use to trim the fat, a government shutdown affects a group not often talked about – small business owners.

That’s right, in the event of a government shutdown, small business loans come to a halt, and small businesses that have government clients lose business. So, while Ukrainian operations continue and Ukrainian small businesses receive American subsidies, it’s the American small business owner who faces possible and probable extinction.

America last, as always

I currently own a home and support my husband and two kiddos. I also became a part of the sandwich generation this year that took in my parents after my dad received a life-altering medical diagnosis that requires 24/7 care. 

The numbers from the BLS are alarming but pale compared to what families like mine face daily. Last month’s groceries cost me just over $1,700. 

My mortgage is $3,450 a month. I spend just under $1,000 for transportation-related expenses (gas, car maintenance, tolls, etc.), and my regular mandatory bills cost just over $800 (electric, water, gas, etc.). I receive a pension from my time in the service, and both my husband and I receive disability from our time in as well. 

When all is said and done, these expenses leave us in a somewhat better position than most, with $1,550 for emergencies, savings, and discretionary spending. Unfortunately, our small art business was costing us more than it was making because while my husband is a great artist, art isn’t something Americans living paycheck to paycheck want to spend their money on. 

And so, like many Americans, we had to put a pin in our American dream, and I’ve had to come out of retirement to look for a salaried job. But I should sleep better at night knowing that my tax dollars pay the salaries of Ukrainian EMTs and help boost Ukrainian entrepreneurs. 

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USAF Retired, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran advocate. Hot mess mom to two monsters and wife to equal parts... More about Kathleen J. Anderson

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