News Clips 5.11.2011
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Today’s Headline: Tomorrow, Reps. Crenshaw and Smith will launch the newly-formed Caucus for Effective Foreign Assistance at an event featuring USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and a panel of other leading development community voices. For more information, click here.
- Pakistan military aid safer than the economic aid (FP Blog-Josh Rogin, May 11) As Congress contemplates cutting U.S. aid to Pakistan in light of the discovery that Osama bin Laden had been hiding there for years, the funds most at risk from disgruntled lawmakers are those currently allocated to the civilian government that is more sympathetic to Washington, rather than the money going to the Pakistani military, which is more wary of ties to the United States. Most vulnerable are the funds promised under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman aid package, which total $7.5 billion over five years. “The part that I’m most skeptical of is the economic part, the 5 year Kerry-Lugar plan,” Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) told The Cable in a Tuesday interview.”It’s not a matter of which part of the government to support, it’s the mission or activities that are in our interest. And the military pieces that we’re supporting, which is reimbursement of their costs for supporting our effort in Afghanistan plus training their military on the border, that’s clearly in our interest,” Levin said.
- Interview with Sen. Marco Rubio: Leading from the front (The Washington Post-Jennifer Rubin, May 11) I ask him about last week’s Republican debate in which more than half the candidates advocated slashing defense and adopting a more isolationist foreign policy. Is he concerned about the direction of the party? He says bluntly, “That’s the wrong direction for America. There has never been a time when we could waste money on defense or foreign aid. We need to make sure the money is wisely spent. . . . On the other hand, to withdraw or retreat from the world will create a vacuum that will be filled by actors” not nearly as desirable or capable as the United States. He says isolationism and defense-cutting are shortsighted. “Disengaging from the world will end up costing us more,” he says. He is concerned that “21st-century American conservatism does not become the politics of neo-isolationism, of retreat. In the last century the U.S. has been a force for good. If you talk to people around the world, they’ll tell you the same thing.”
- GOP sets stage for major cuts in 2012 (Politico, May 11) Among the dozen annual spending bills, only the Pentagon’s would grow—a $17 billion increase that brings the total to $530 billion, just $8.9 billion less than the president’s 2012 request. By comparison, the much smaller State Department and foreign aid budget is cut by $11.2 billion, a 22 percent reduction from the administration’s request. Floor debate on the three toughest bills with the most serious cuts— foreign aid, labor, education, health, and transportation and housing—would all be delayed until after Labor Day. And clearly the chairman is hoping for some August settlement on the budget caps tied to lifting the federal debt ceiling. These 2012 totals also don’t include $127 billion in war-related funding for Afghanistan and Iraq as well as world-wide anti-terrorism efforts. The bulk of that money, $119 billion, would go again to the Pentagon, but the $7.6 billion is allocated to the State Department and foreign aid and $258 million for Homeland Security. The State Department funds reflect a significant shift from last year and should slow the hemorrhaging and help stabilize aid levels, especially for frontline states like Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.
- Deep and Disproportionate Cuts to the International Affairs Budget: Dangerous to Our National Security (Will and the Wallet blog-Liz Schrayer, May 11) America must be competitive in the global economy and the tools in the International Affairs Budget help strengthen and open new markets for American goods and services. Today, nearly half of U.S.exports go to the developing world, a figure that has steadily grown over the past decade, and one in five American jobs is now dependent on trade and exports. Clearly we must address the deficit, and we welcome the debate in Washington. But it is critical that this 1% of our budget, programs that are vital to our national and economic security, do not absorb disproportionate and deep cuts along the way to solving a much larger fiscal problem.