by Rory Anderson, ChildFund’s Director of External Relations
In the face of historic deficits in the United States, some believe that Congress can balance the budget and rid America of debt if we just cut out spending on foreign aid. This is a myth — federal spending on foreign assistance is a mere 1.4 percent of the total federal budget. Yet the International Affairs budget line absorbed nearly 20 percent of total spending cuts in last year’s budget, and even deeper cuts — of an additional 20 percent or more — are being debated in the Senate later this week.
Don’t be distracted by the rhetoric—a 1.4 percent savings will not balance the budget. What these further cuts will do is jeopardize the future of children around the world who are already lacking the basics of care.
ChildFund and our peer organizations see the International Affairs budget as a strategic, cost-effective investment that leverages both public and private resources to tackle the root causes of poverty, conflict and extremism and respond to global humanitarian crises.
As we have seen recently with our relief efforts in Haiti, and now in the Horn of Africa, America continues to remain a beacon of light and hope for those living in extreme poverty around the world. Feeding a hungry child or helping his or her mother earn a sustainable living represents the best of our foreign policy. Through our aid to others, we are tangibly demonstrating America’s best values. And that builds goodwill for our nation around the world.
But the International Affairs budget is not just about charity; it is a long-term investment in growth at home. Right now, there is much talk in Washington about jobs. Today, one of every five jobs in the U.S. is related to international trade. The health and livelihood programs funded by the International Affairs Budget create these export opportunities for America, contributing to the security of our nation’s economic future. So, a vote in Congress to cut international affairs funding will negatively impact jobs in America.
What is ultimately at stake in the current debate in the Senate this week is American leadership and values, which can be measured by how the most vulnerable among us fare. Poor and hungry people do not have powerful lobbies, but they do have the most compelling claim on our national conscience and common resources.
Cuts to the International Affairs budget are not in America’s strategic interests, they do not reflect American values, and they could actually cost taxpayers more in the long run through more costly military involvement and delayed response to humanitarian crises that ultimately threaten the world’s economy.
If you agree, then please consider contacting your senators, and ask them to protect America’s values and its economic future by opposing any cuts to the International Affairs budget.