New Details Emerge

April 12, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Details of the FY 2011 spending agreement came out late last night with the International Affairs Budget mark at $50.1 billion.  This is an 11 percent cut from FY 2010 levels, but not the 19 percent cut previously adopted by the House in H.R. 1.  The House and Senate are expected to take up the FY11 spending bill on Thursday.  The measure is expected to pass both houses, although several conservative Republicans in the House have already declared they will oppose the measure.  Click here to read USGLC’s press statement. The FY12 budget resolution, which contains a nearly 30 percent cut to the International Affairs Budget, will move to the House floor on Thursday, with a final vote expected Friday.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Panetta Gets the Ink; Will Mabus Get the Job? (Yochi J. Dreazen, the National Journal)

Defense Secretary Robert Gates wound up his final trip to Iraq this weekend, prompting a wave of speculation about who’ll replace him. Most of the attention has centered on CIA chief Leon Panetta, a former White House chief of staff. But there is another serious contender for the post: Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, a former governor of Mississippi who has an unusually close relationship with President Obama.

Budget deal isn’t all about cuts (David Rogers, POLITICO)

In the case of foreign aid — a major target for the GOP — the final bill more often freezes spending near 2010 levels — walking a middle path between the increases Obama wanted while avoiding the deep cuts envisioned by the House. The administration’s newer climate change and food aid initiatives suffer the most in this framework. An estimated $8.4 billion is allowed for economic and development assistance, $375 million less than 2010 but $1 billion more than the House.

Crisis Response: Mending a Weak Diplomacy (Amb. Ronald Neumann, the Will and the Wallet)

Even as the U.S. Government struggles to understand new revolutionary movements and provide the sound information and analysis that are the bedrock of intelligent policy, the efforts to rebuild our institutions and train our people are grinding to a halt. America’s military leaders recognize the problem: “It has become clear that America’s civilian institutions of diplomacy and development have been chronically undermanned and underfunded for far too long…relative to the responsibilities and challenges our nation has around the world.” Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Speech before the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition  (July 15, 2008).

Area legislators’ views on U.S. involvement in Libya (Thomas Fitzgerald, the Philadelphia Inquirer)

The legislative delegation from the Philadelphia region is divided about the timing and wisdom of U.S. military involvement in Libya but mostly agrees that President Obama deserves the benefit of the doubt for participating in air strikes. One of the most contentious issues, they say, is whether the United States has adequately defined the mission’s goals and limits.

Smart Power

In budget cutting, how to make foreign aid less vulnerable (the Christian Science Monitor)

Americans are a generous lot in helping the world’s poor – otherwise why all the TV ads for foreign charities or so many personal mission trips to work in rural villages? Yet they are stingy toward US foreign aid. They falsely assume it eats up 10 percent of the federal budget (it’s less than 1 percent) and then insist it be the first casualty in spending cuts.

Trade and Investment Mission to Tunisia Follow Up (Chris Wilken, ITA)

Tunisia’s recent political changes have dramatically improved the business environment for American companies.  The trade mission members were told by the new Tunisian officials of the high regard they hold for U.S. companies and their desire to see an increased U.S. business presence in the country.  Government officials also indicated that they wish to move forward on a number of pro-business economic reforms.

The $3 Billion, $30 Billion, & $300 Billion Questions for the Future of Philanthropy in Development (Tod Moss, CGD)

Instead lead through risk-taking and innovation. Venture philanthropy should complement existing donors precisely in the areas where traditional donors’ hands are usually tied: bringing new ideas and technologies to the table, and piloting innovative development programs. The old model of rich Westerners designing and implementing projects is going to give way to new models that are built around incentives, especially those that encourage the provision of global public goods, and experimentation.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Republicans will need to do more if we are to confront the threats facing us, says FPI’s Jamie Fly and Evan Moore (The Weekly Standard)

Last week, the Republican Study Committee (RSC) unveiled its own budget proposal, which cuts over $3 trillion more than Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan over the next ten years. Despite all the media commentary about a divide within the Republican Party on the defense budget, the RSC proposal, like Paul Ryan’s, funds defense at the same level the Obama administration requested for FY12.

Baker: Yemen Becoming Bigger Threat Than Afghanistan (Yochi J. Dreazen, the National Journal)

Former Secretary of State James Baker said on Sunday that he believed Yemen was becoming a greater threat to U.S. national security than Afghanistan, and he questioned the enormous amounts of American military and financial resources devoted to the Afghan war.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Takes Nationwide New Markets (The Commerce Blog)

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke traveled to New Orleans, La. today for the third stop of New Markets, New Jobs: The National Export Initiative Small Business Outreach Tour. Locke was joined by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Export-Import Bank Board Member Diane Farrell.

Gonna be an interesting year for American political economy (Daniel Drezner, FP)

With the government not shutting down and all, Washington can now look forward to the next moment of Gotterdammerung, which is when the debt ceiling has to be raised.  By risking minor things like the full faith and credit of the United States, that kind of shutdown really would have serious foreign policy implications.