Monday, February 21, 2011

Is Reduction In Foreign Aid Budget Really Going To Help U.S. Government?

As the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives has called for deep cuts in U.S. foreign aid budget, the Obama administration's commitment to foster global prosperity is about to face serious challenge. While President Obama's administration views weak and fragile states as threats to national security, the majority of the House of Representatives do not share this view. The House leadership by planning to cut foreign aid by 21% from 2011 budget, has promised to ensure that the foreign aid is not being used as a stimulus bill for foreign countries. The House bill proposed very deep cuts for diplomacy and development and very modest cuts for defense, thus drawing criticism from the more international-minded Representatives.

There is a an obvious ideological difference between these two groups regarding the issue of foreign aid. The Obama administration believes that reducing foreign aid to weaker states would definitely create problems associated with national security. Therefore, U.S. government must continue to provide funds both for war efforts and for economic assistance. But the House bill proposed to continue funding for war efforts and planned to cut the economic support funds. While the debate between focus on defense budget and development budget is heating up, it looks like defense budget is likely to win over development budget if Senate does not decide otherwise. In this situation, experts have a solution: given that U.S. spends more than 20 times as much on defense as it does on development assistance, it could make the changes proportional by cutting $20 from the Pentagon for every $1 it adds to development, and use the rest to draw down the deficit.

-Nisha Noor