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Are Republicans really putting America first?

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson and other congressional Republicans are blocking a $60 billion aid deal to Ukraine, claiming America should be concerned with its own needs before giving more to the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia. In addition, Congress is facing a deadline to pass a stopgap bill before a partial government shutdown on March 1.

Yahoo Finance Senior Columnist Rick Newman joins Yahoo Finance to discuss why he believes the blocking of aid to Ukraine is “dumb logic.” He also notes that Americans aren’t seeing the bigger picture of government spending.

For more expert insight and the latest market action, click here to watch this full episode of Yahoo Finance Live.

Editor’s note: This article was written by Nicholas Jacobino

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: Well, $60 million aid deal for Ukraine is being blocked by conservative Republicans. House Speaker Mike Johnson saying, America has to take care of its own needs first.

“Yahoo Finance’s” Rick Newman has the details. And Rick, you’re calling the blocking of Ukraine aid, in your words, dumb logic. Why?

RICK NEWMAN: It’s just sophistry what we’re hearing from Mike Johnson and other conservative Republicans. He keeps saying, as you pointed out, Akiko, we need to take care of America first. In particular, they want fixes for this huge flow of migrants at the border, as if the United States government is not doing anything for Americans, where all we ever talk about is sending US taxpayer money overseas. That is not the case at all.

The government’s fiscal year started October 1. The government has spent $2.1 trillion since then. Almost all of that is money spent on Americans to help Americans. The US government spends $14 billion a day. A lot of that goes out in Social Security payments, Medicare benefits. And practically, everybody in the country benefits from all the money the government spends on a daily basis.

President Biden is asking for $60 billion to help Ukraine. That is equivalent to only four days worth of spending. That’s what the US government spends in four days. And most of this, this is not money. We’re not sending stacks of $100 bills to Ukraine. That’s not what they want. What they desperately need is weaponry. And almost all of that is made in the United States by Americans.

What’s really going on here is Republicans are just trying to stoke immigration problems. They want this to be a big election campaign point for President Trump. So they actually don’t– they’ve actually blocked bills to actually do what they say they want to do, which is fix immigration. There is legislation to do that. Republicans won’t vote for it.

So this is just circular logic. And, honestly, what Americans should get behind is just more funding for Ukraine.

AKIKO FUJITA: Rick, I have to ask you about what played out yesterday in Michigan in the primary there. Of course, there was a lot of questions going into that primary for President Biden, given the huge demographic of Arab-Americans saying they’re going to be voting uncommitted.

We saw that. They exceeded more than 100,000 votes there. What does that tell you about just how complicated that path is for the president in trying to capture that state, which is very much in play and critical to that November election?

RICK NEWMAN: Well, Biden– this might be overplayed a little bit in the media. Biden still got– I think, he got 81% of the vote among Democrats. That’s a pretty decisive victory.

It’s very clear. It’s not just Arab-Americans. It’s young Americans are not happy with Biden’s what began as full-throated support for Israel, because there are certainly some Americans who think Palestinians are the victims here.

And the Biden administration is getting that message. One thing– the State Department has recently said, they oppose certain new settlements in the West Bank. That is a key point. So Biden is addressing these concerns. I think some of the Arab-Americans in Michigan, they just want to be heard.

So Biden– I think he is saying, he’s going to hear them. If you want to ask, what does this all mean for the general election? It seems a little bit hard to believe that Arab-Americans, who don’t love Biden’s policies, are going to vote for Trump, because Trump– remember, one of the first things he did when he became president in 2017 was ban Muslim immigrants. The Muslim ban, which courts struck down. And said, you can’t do that.

So it’s not like these people are going to necessarily vote for Trump. But they want Biden to hear them. And I think Biden has to hear them.

AKIKO FUJITA: And that is, at least, what the White House has said. They’re going to try to earn every vote. It has been the line from the White House. We’ll continue to watch that.

Rick Newman, thanks so much.

RICK NEWMAN: Yeah, Akiko.

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