Very soon the U.S. House and Senate will have to get together on a spending bill for 2011. At this point, Congress has voted for deep cuts in foreign aid spending.
Some people think the U.S. spends more than 25 percent of the U.S. budget on foreign aid. Actually we spend less than 1 percent on poverty-focused foreign aid programs. Even former Bush administration official Michael Gerson called the cuts “both irrelevant and destructive” in a lengthy Washington Post column. He also said, “No one can reasonably claim that the budget crisis exists because America spends too much on bed nets and AIDS drugs.”
In addition to the life-giving and even breathtaking results from the humanitarian programs, one out of five U.S. jobs is export-related and nearly 50 percent of our exports go to the developing world. Our figures for Washington state in 2006 showed 18.5 percent of total jobs to be trade-supported.
While advancing the Bush administration’s worthy global health legacy, Congress should feel a mandate to not only save lives, but also maintain the U.S. image and influence abroad and continue a healthy economic trend in poor countries that will help our own economic future.