Steven Leiser-Mitchell

President Obama defended American engagement abroad on Monday afternoon, and calling out the national security, economic, and humanitarian importance of U.S. international affairs programs. During a Google+ “Hangout” and broadcast live on Youtube, Obama answered questions from five American’s over a video feed, and responded to 23 electronically submitted questions. Over 133,000 questions were submitted though Google and Youtube, but it was a homeless veteran from Boston who pressed the President about his support for foreign aid.

Asked whether the United States could afford to spend money abroad when so many are hurting at home, the President acknowledged the difficult situation, but defended international affairs programs saying, “We only spend about 1 percent of our budget on foreign aid. But it pays off in a lot of ways.” Helping other countries improve their economies, avert famine, or stabilize their economies “prevents us from having to deal with some military crisis somewhere down the road that could be even more expensive,” he stated. Obama then turned the discussion to national security matters, and the cost of military spending. “Most of the aid we provide goes to countries that are helping us with our national security. When we’re providing aid to that country, we may be saving a larger amount in terms of what we would have to deal with if they weren’t cooperating with us.” The International Affairs Budget, therefore, is used to prevent potential military expenditures that would be far greater in the cost of both the American pocketbook and the lives of American soldiers.

The International Affairs Budget is critical to protecting and promoting American interests in the world, and we look forward to the President’s release of his FY13 budget proposal on February 13th.

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