Down to the Wire

April 6, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his FY12 budget resolution yesterday that proposes to reduce spending by $6 trillion over the next decade by reforming Medicare and cutting discretionary spending. Ryan’s budget resolution reduces the International Affairs Budget to $41 billion, a 27% cut from FY10 levels. The USGLC released a strong statement noting “this cut will not effectively reduce our deficit, but it will clearly diminish U.S. global engagement and competitiveness.” The resolution will be marked up by the Budget Committee today, with floor action in the House to come next week. Meanwhile, House and Senate negotiators have not reached agreement on spending levels for the rest of FY11, and a government shutdown could begin in three days.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Senator Kent Conrad Budget Interview (Morning Edition, NPR)

“Well, foreign aid is less than 1 percent of the federal budget. So when you’re borrowing 40 cents of every dollar that you spend, you’re not going to solve the problem cutting foreign aid.”

Budget wars: Down to the wire (David Rogers, Politico)

With Republicans upping the ante on spending cuts, President Barack Obama took a tougher line himself Tuesday, warning he won’t sign another stopgap bill without first reaching a deal over the 2011 budget — even at the risk of a shutdown Friday. Obama’s comments followed a meeting with congressional leaders at which House Speaker John Boehner floated a compromise of $40 billion in spending cuts — $7 billion more than the $33 billion target negotiators have been working toward since last week.

Possible government shutdown threatens tax day, foreign aid (Marketplace Morning Report)

CHIOTAKIS: What kind of foreign aid are we talking about here? WARNER: Well, I mean — anything. Anything from building schools for girls in Afghanistan to training police officers in Iraq to combating HIV/AIDS in Rwanda. All of it could be affected by a shutdown. The larger question is though, what is going to happen to foreign aid in these budget negotiations because according to a Gallup poll, foreign aid is the only piece of the budget that a majority of Americans agree should be cut. So shutdown or no — the fate of a lot of foreign aid is uncertain.

Ros-Lehtinen Says Cuban Democracy Programs Lifeline for Oppressed Cuban People (Press Release)

“Programs supporting democracy in Cuba empower those standing up to the Cuban regime by serving as a critical source of support and hope.  The programs represent a lifeline for an island whose dictatorship attempts to choke off all access to the outside world.”

Smart Power

Private firms should contribute more to foreign aid, says Bill Gates (The Guardian)

The world’s banks, mining, drug and other companies should invest much more in foreign aid, Bill Gates, the world’s leading philanthropist told European MEPs on Tuesday. Gates, who is touring Europe celebrating the success of US and other aid programmes, said that private philanthropy only contributed 2% to world aid flows but that this could be increased.

Can We Still See and Serve Our True National Self-Interest? (James Bacchus, Huffington Post)

I once asked a group of supporters of Ross Perot in my former Congressional district in Florida how they recommended achieving their worthy goal of a balanced budget. They had a ready reply: cut my salary and abolish foreign aid. They did not know, until I told them, that foreign aid comprises only about one percent of the federal budget–or that much of it is required by federal law to be spent in the United States on U.S. goods and services. A recent poll found that, when people were asked what percentage of the federal budget goes to foreign aid, the average response was 27 percent.

How much would you give to save the world? (ONE Blog)

“How much would you give to save the world? 15 percent of the budget? 10 percent? How about 1 percent?” This is the message that was splashed on the front of today’s issue of Express, a publication of The Washington Post. The ad, sponsored by CARE, WWF and Oxfam America, went on to say, “Currently, only about 1 percent of the US budget goes to address global hunger, poverty, climate change, conservation and disaster relief.”

Politics/Foreign Policy

Swords Into Plowshares (Dylan R. Matthews, Harvard Crimson)

Over the past decade, a group of economists, centered at MIT’s Poverty Action Lab, have taken to using randomized controlled experiments to determine, with social scientific rigor, what bang-for-the-buck certain foreign aid programs get. The results are encouraging. PAL studies have shown, for example, that spending $100 on chlorine treatment for water sources in Kenya can prevent hundreds of potentially deadly diarrheal incidents. Meanwhile, $100 spent informing families in Madagascar about the benefits of education results in students attending school for a total of 40 additional years.

Foreign aid fraud warning from National Audit Office (BBC)

Government foreign aid chiefs must improve efforts to identify potential fraud, the National Audit Office says. The spending watchdog said the UK had no clear picture of the “extent, nature and impact” of development funds failing to meet goals due to fraud.