Standing By Food Aid

June 16, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Yesterday, the House debated amendments for the Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture spending bill, and voted down what could have been devastating cuts for international food aid. A bipartisan majority rejected additional cuts to the Food for Peace program, which the underlying bill would already reduce by 30 percent to $1.04 billion. Four separate GOP amendments  that would have imposed additional cuts to the program, ranging from a $100 million cut to its elimination, were rejected by large majorities. Agriculture Appropriations Chairman Jack Kingston (R-GA) argued against additional cuts, saying “this is not about international charity alone. America needs to be engaged around the world. When there is a national disaster or man-made disaster, if we’re not there, who will be there?” The House expects to pass the final bill today.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Adm. Mullen: Changes in Pakistan aid should not be made to ‘save a dollar’ (The Hill, John T. Bennett)

Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen urged lawmakers Wednesday to avoid cutting aid to Pakistan, warning that such a move could permanently damage the already chilly relationship between countries. Mullen told the Senate Appropriations Committee that any funding changes should be made with an eye toward the “long view,” meaning with an understanding of the big-picture ramifications if the U.S.-Pakistani relationship goes south for good.

The US Peace Corps Turns 50: A Conversation With Director Aaron Williams (Devex, Rolf Rosenkranz)

Forty-five years ago, Aaron Williams took what he has described as “the biggest risk I’d ever taken in my life.” The Chicago native applied for a nascent volunteer-abroad program championing world peace and friendship. That program, of course, is the U.S. Peace Corps, which Williams has led since 2009. Now in its 50th year, the premier U.S. volunteer-abroad organization has lost little of its charm for Americans eager to provide technical assistance and engage in cultural exchange with people in Africa, Latin America and beyond.

Kissinger praises ‘very intelligent’ Huntsman (Washington Times, Ben Birnbaum)

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on Wednesday praised soon-to-be presidential candidate Jon Huntsman Jr. as “intelligent” and “a very good ambassador” to China. “I think he’s intelligent, well-poised,” said Mr. Kissinger, who met Mr. Huntsman on Tuesday at a lunch in New York and spoke with reporters and bloggers in Washington on Wednesday. “Did a good job in China. Certainly makes a good candidate.”

Smart Power

Clinton: African Businesswomen Need More Access to Credit (Voice of America, Scott Stearns)

During her trip to Africa this week, Clinton told business and government leaders that when women prosper financially, the benefits carry over to improvements in children’s health and education. “Women are holding up half the economy already,” said the secretary of state. “Let’s give them the opportunities to bring along all the rest of us with their hard work and their success. Because when a woman prospers, she reinvests those earnings in her family and the positive ripple effects cross an entire community.”

Politics/Foreign Policy

Biden talks focus on debt reduction caps (The Hill, Russell Berman)

Wednesday’s meeting centered on deficit reduction caps and triggers, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) told reporters. Republicans want caps that are tied exclusively to spending as a percentage of the gross domestic product, while Democrats are pushing to link any caps to the broader goal of deficit reduction, in which both spending cuts and tax increases could be used to rein in future deficits.

Food aid stirs emotions, splits GOP (David Rogers, Politico)

Already on the defensive, scores of House Republicans joined with Democrats on Wednesday to beat back repeated conservative attempts to make still deeper cuts from nutrition programs and food aid overseas. The resulting margins approached 3-1, and the underlying $17.25 billion agriculture bill has clearly touched a deeper nerve than its Republican managers had expected.

Foreign policy will affect Egypt’s economic future (Financial Times, Farouk Soussa)

Similarly, the G8 declaration in Deauville did not commit any cash to Egypt, instead promising a “partnership” in which $20bn of multilateral funds could be made available over three years “in support of suitable reform efforts”. True, the IMF is about to provide $3bn, but that is only for the coming year, and in the greater scheme of things is fairly limited. But the main advantage of multilateral and, to an extent, western lending, is that it comes with significant economic conditionality. This would provide a much-needed external anchor to public finances and economic policy, which will be under immense pressure to deliver on social justice. An independent foreign policy in Egypt therefore spells significant economic and fiscal risks.

New wind blowing: American decline becomes the new conventional wisdom (Foreign Policy, Clyde Prestowitz)

For the past several months, I have sensed a shift in the wind of elite opinion on the future of the U.S. economy and on the broader issue of American influence and hegemony. It has long been the conventional wisdom that the U.S. economy is the world’s most resilient and innovative and that it will always bounce back to maintain the American standard of living as the world’s highest along with American global power as the world’s greatest. The challenge of Japan in the 1980s was thought to have been turned aside in the 1990s by a combination of the collapse of Japan’s great asset bubble and the revolution emanating from , where else, the United States. By the same token, the collapse of what was eventually revealed to have been the bubble, was understood to have been overcome by the dynamic U.S. real estate and services economy led by the rapidly expanding and sophisticated banks of, where else, Wall Street.