US AID BUDGET CUTS, SIGNS OF THE TIMES!
Erle Frayne D. Argonza
Overall budget appropriation pattern in the US Congress has shown an increasing cuts of aid to other countries. The US $4 Billions given each to Egypt and Israel were squeezed down a mere $3 Billions for both countries.
The rationale given by the mentally bankrupt US legislators is that priority for allocations should be domestic needs rather than those that fit foreign relations matters. Isolationism is creeping inside legislators more so the House of Representatives or ‘lower house’. In US institutional history, the term ‘lower house’ was used to label the House of Representatives to signify the low level of wisdom and competence of its members relative to the Senate.
Signs of the times, isn’t it? US hegemonism on the global terrain is now crashing down in a context that is increasingly moving toward multipolar power arrangement. Domestic demands for larger money inputs is ever rising at exponential rates while the debt levels are sucking down financial resources intended for more productive uses (pump priming) and social welfare.
Below is an analytical piece about the subject culled from the New York Times.
[Philippines, 16 November 2011]
No Time to Get Stingy
Published: October 8, 2011
Spending for diplomacy and foreign aid has long been a favorite target of Congressional budget cutters. That’s truer than ever this year with the supercommittee looking for a $1.5 trillion reduction in the federal deficit. Why spend precious tax dollars overseas when the need at home is so great?
For the sake of national security, this country cannot afford to retreat from the world. Its investment in the State Department and foreign aid helps advance peace and stability by feeding starving people, providing access to doctors and medicines, opening new markets, promoting democracy, curbing nuclear arms and strengthening allies with military and economic assistance. It also gives Washington leverage.
There is a lot of public misunderstanding about foreign aid, which accounts for less than 2 percent of the federal budget. And the truth is, much of that money — too much — goes to American producers of food, medicine and weapons that are delivered abroad.
International affairs spending — on diplomats and embassies, aid to more than 100 countries and funding for the World Bank, the United Nations and others — declined after the cold war. It rose after 9/11, from about $32 billion in 2002 to $57 billion in 2010, largely because of obligations connected to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, aid to Pakistan and a greater investment in global health.
The trend is shifting again. As chart A shows, the budget was cut by $6 billion, or roughly 11 percent, in 2011, with a $2 billion reduction possible in 2012 if the Republican-led House prevails. The largest category of spending is direct economic aid, which supports global health programs, as well as efforts to reform economies, expand education and respond to disasters in Haiti, Japan and elsewhere. That type of spending was cut to $21 billion in 2011 from $25 billion in 2010.
Military and security aid to fight terrorism abroad, combat drug trafficking and underwrite foreign arms purchases and military training amounted to $8 billion in 2011. Israel gets about $3 billion annually, with money also going to Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. This is one category the House would increase. The State Department’s salaries, embassy construction and security, and contributions to international institutions make up most of the rest of the budget.
At least four critical areas would suffer disproportionately from cuts proposed by the House. The Obama administration opposes those cuts and is seeking limited increases. As chart B shows, food aid, which was $1.7 billion in 2011, would fall 28 percent to $1.2 billion in the House plan. A global health initiative, which is reducing malaria in Africa and preventing the spread of H.I.V./AIDS, under that plan would lose $700 million from its $7.8 billion budget. The United States Agency for International Development (Usaid), which oversees aid programs and ensures that funds are properly spent, faces a $400 million cut — and likely staff layoffs. Money for development projects like water filtration plants would be sliced by 18 percent by the House.
Savings squeezed from the State Department and foreign aid — which together are less than a tenth of the basic Pentagon budget — would be a tiny share of the $3.8 trillion federal budget. Yet the effects would be hugely damaging to American foreign policy. Washington needs resources to support new democracy movements in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. This is also a critical time in Iraq and Afghanistan, where demands for diplomatic resources are growing. National security has always depended on more than military strength. We need diplomats to anticipate problems and find nonmilitary solutions. The drive to cut diplomatic resources and foreign aid seriously harms our ability to do just that.
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