Today’s Headlines

July 19, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Coming up August 10-12, USGLC member organization InterAction will host its annual forum in Washington, D.C. Titled Investing in Common Solutions, this year’s forum will once again bring together the top humanitarian and development experts in the world. High-level speakers include Mohammad Yunus (Founder, Grameen Bank and Nobel Peace Prize Winner), representatives from the United Nations, USAID, National Security Council and more.  Online registration is available through the end of this week. Click here to register.

Must Reads

USGLC In the News

USGLC Annual Conference Round-Up-Part 1 (Modernize Aid)

The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition hosted its annual Washington conference last week with a day-long forum that focused on the economic link between development and U.S. leadership and growth. “Investing in the Future: A Smart Power Approach to Global Leadership” brought together high-ranking government officials like Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, General James Cartwright, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, and World Bank President Robert Zoellick, among others to discuss how employing our smart power tools—diplomacy and development—can enhance our economic prosperity at home while bolstering our image abroad.

Who’s in the News

Ros-Lehtinen’s New Bill Would Put Conditions on Aid to Some Muslim Nations (Emily Cadei, CQ)

The chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee is emphasizing democracy promotion, security for Israel and getting tough with America’s wayward allies in the Muslim world as she seeks to put her stamp on U.S. foreign policy. Republicans and Democrats on the panel are expecting a lively and lengthy debate during a markup scheduled for Wednesday, with members on both sides of the aisle preparing a long list of amendments. Democrats, in particular, are irked by the lack of time they have been given to review the legislation and what they say have been last-minute changes to the text.

Coburn proposes cutting $190 billion from international affairs budget over 10 years (Josh Rogin, Foreign Policy)

Today seems like a popular day for attacking the State Department and foreign assistance budgets, and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) doesn’t want to be left out. As part of his plan to cut $9 trillion from the federal budget over the next 10 years, he’s proposing that nearly $190 billion be cut from the international affairs accounts. “Proponents of foreign aid sometimes argue that it represents only 1 percent of the federal budget (actually closer to 1.5 percent), and that eliminating all of it would not solve our nation’s fiscal problems. That is true, but it is true of every other area. And just as other chapters of this report show how other budget lines have wasteful, duplicative and low-priority spending, the Department of State and its Foreign Operations budget is no different.”

Smart Power

Foreign aid: best value for your buck (Martha Hill, News-Press Blogs)

My late husband worked 25 years in the U.S. Foreign Service, serving in Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Bolivia, Guatemala, the Republic of Upper Volta and Nicaragua. I can tell you that foreign aid is far from wasteful spending, and indeed it’s probably that one part of the federal budget where taxpayers get full return on their money. Federal spending abroad is crucial to help maintain our leadership in the world while furthering our foreign policy interests in developing democratic governments that in turn create the basis for a free market economy.

Empowerment Trade in Rwanda (Johnathan Kalan, Huffington Post Blogs)

Launched in 2007 by Matt Mitro, a former practicing attorney for Akin Gump LLP in Washington D.C., Indego Africa is many things to many people. It’s a fair-trade online retailer, high-end fashion wholesale supplier, nonprofit organization, and, as a handful of women in Rwanda would say, a university. Above all, it is a social enterprise experimenting with a new way of doing business that hopes to lift families out of poverty and tie consumers, designers and companies of the world’s fashion industry directly to the economic freedom of African women.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Debt-ceiling crisis still eludes compromise (Rosalind S. Helderman and Paul Kane, Washington Post)

Republican lawmakers moved ahead Monday on a doomed plan to amend the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced federal budget, one day after President Obama met with the top two House GOP leaders in hopes of reaching a debt-limit agreement that could win approval from the hostile House. That plan faces almost certain defeat in the Senate, where many lawmakers moved ahead on Monday with a compromise proposal. The current timeline, according to aides in both parties, would call for the Senate to unveil its bipartisan plan later this week and begin to consider it Saturday

In Egypt, U.S. government seeks a few good democrats (Mary Beth Sheridan, Washington Post)

Three months earlier, the U.S. government had tripled pro-democracy aid to Egypt, to $65 million. Already, a chunk of it had been assigned: more than $30 million to two veteran U.S. nonprofit organizations that train budding politicians; about $4.5 million to a State Department program for grass-roots groups; millions for election infrastructure. But in the wake of the Egyptian revolution, USAID wanted to go beyond the usual grantees. How to reach Egypt’s new democrats? USAID put an ad in the paper, publicizing information sessions on democracy grants. More than 1,000 Egyptians turned up. Many of them were unknown to the U.S. government. The difficulties of distributing the aid went beyond sorting through applications. In a population such as Egypt’s, which is deeply suspicious of U.S. meddling, aid recipients were sometimes tagged as American lackeys.