“The problem isn’t that we are spending too much on promoting global development, strengthening our alliances, and dealing with global threats. Rather, we must do a better job communicating the actual size and importance of our International Affairs budget.”
As a new Congress gets into gear, both Republicans and Democrats have a solemn duty to do the people’s work and to make sure their taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely. U.S. foreign assistance is already under the microscope, as it should be, but we believe policymakers should focus on making it better instead of slashing budgets. Foreign assistance accounts for less than 1% of our federal budget, and our investments in it can pay real dividends for the cost.
Sara Messer, policy manager for aid effectiveness, at MFAN Partner ONE, recently posted a blog about the reoccurring themes of innovation and competitiveness in President Obama’s State of the Union earlier this week. “At a time when government programs are on the chopping block and every dollar needs to be justified, it’s important that we support those programs that are making real reforms and changing lives for millions of people around the world.”
“The emerging ‘common aid language’ needs to be shaped by U.S. information and reporting systems and respond to U.S. accountability concerns. The Administration’s focus on results and accountability requires comprehensive and timely information on all resources being invested in a country, sector or area. Without the ability to compare U.S. spending to that of other donors, it is not possible to allocate or coordinate resources effectively or meaningfully assess their impact.”
We strongly oppose last week’s Republican Study Committee budget proposal, which would cut all operating expenses at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The cuts would derail the comprehensive reform agenda underway inside the agency, at a time when its ability to perform effectively is crucial to our national security, our economic interests, and the lives and well-being of millions of the world’s most vulnerable people.
Perhaps most importantly, Jim has been respected for decades as a leader who can work across the aisle to build consensus and forge solutions to big challenges, which are enormously important to the future success of U.S. development efforts, our foreign policy, and our leadership in the world. As implementation of foreign assistance reform moves ahead, we look forward to working closely with Jim to raise bipartisan awareness in Congress about the importance of giving reform the durability of law.
Congressman Howard Berman, Ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, spoke yesterday on the House Floor about the importance of the International Affairs Budget and why the Republicans proposed budget cuts threaten American national security. To read his full statement, click here.
Below are excerpts from MFAN Partners’ statements in reaction to USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah’s extraordinary speech last week. Stay tuned for coverage of the Republican Study Group’s call for severe cuts to USAID’s budget.
In a guest post on The Stimson Center’s Will and the Wallet blog, Alison Giffen, Research Fellow at the Stimson Center and Deputy Director of its project on the future of peace operations, makes the case against cutting investment in diplomacy and development even in these tough fiscal times, and uses Sudan as a primary example.
“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”