Today’s Headlines

November 14, 2011 By Mac Stoddard

This afternoon the Senate begins debate on its second minibus package, including the FY12 State-Foreign Operations Appropriations bill.  There will be no votes today.  Former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright, Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and George Shultz sent a letter to every Member of Congress this morning urging them to support a strong and effective International Affairs Budget.  Click here to see the letter.

Must Reads

Who’s in the News

Rubio defends foreign aid as essential to national security (Justin Sink, The Hill)

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) defended foreign aid as essential to American national security interests Monday morning after the programs came under fire at Saturday’s Republican presidential debate.  “I think we need to examine all of our foreign aid and make sure it makes sense – theres never been a good time to waste money, but… on the other hand the foreign aid we put out is a very small part of our overall budget, and an important part of it,” Rubio said Monday on Fox News.

International development promotes American jobs and national security (Bob Rabatsky, The Sacramento Bee)

When tallying the bottom line, Congress should consider the full price tag: our foreign assistance creates jobs at home by boosting exports and protects our national security by making friends and strengthening economies in emerging societies. Considering how U.S. foreign aid advances America’s diplomatic, economic, national security and humanitarian objectives, it also delivers a great return on the tax dollar – for less than 1 percent of the total federal budget.

Smart Power

Liberia – a model for US development aid (Benfamin J. Spatz, The Christian Science Monitor)

True, Liberia’s latest marker of democratic progress also highlights the country’s continued fragility. Politicking, baseless allegations of electoral fraud, and one tragic death in pre-election turmoil sparked a needless voter boycott and carried headlines. But without US support, Liberia – founded by freed American slaves – would never have gotten as far as it has.  Even more relevant is that Liberia offers an example of how well-designed US development aid can build strong partnerships and enhance America’s long-term security. This, at minimal cost and without putting US troops in danger.

Bills To Cut Foreign Aid to Israeli Doves on Hold (Associated Press)

Controversial bills that would slash foreign funding for dovish Israeli groups have been put on hold after objections by some Cabinet ministers, the state’s attorney general and foreign governments, an Israeli official said Monday. The bills, approved Sunday by a ministerial committee, would limit donations by foreign governments or international bodies to a single group to 20,000 shekels, or about $5,200, a year. They would also slap a 45 percent tax rate on the contributions. Opponents see the measure as an attempt to muzzle dovish groups critical of the government — and as such, as a dangerous infringement on Israeli democracy

Huntsman: Foreign aid cuts ‘political sound bite’ (Associated Press)

GOP presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman is promoting U.S. foreign aid as a sound investment, arguing that his opponents are opting for “sound-bite campaigning” when they advocate eliminating it.  Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Huntsman said there are areas that are critical to Washington, adding, in his words, “if they’re in America’s interest, we get some return on that invested dollar.” He adds, “To wish it all away, I think, is a political sound bite.”

Politics/Foreign Policy

On supercommittee, growing doubts about reaching a debt deal (Lori Montgomery and Rosalind S. Helderman, The Washington Post)

With just 10 days left before a Thanksgiving deadline, members of the congressional “supercommittee” appear increasingly pessimistic about the odds of forging a debt-reduction deal, despite a new offer by Republicans to raise taxes.  The public debate has grown more divisive since both sides laid out their latest offers last week. Negotiators, already under attack from the left, are facing fresh pressure from the anti-tax right.

The Great Foreign Policy Debate (Stephen F. Hayes, The Weekly Standard)

After a series of debates in which foreign policy and national security issues received little attention, Republicans spent Saturday evening here debating everything from the Arab Spring and Pakistan to foreign aid and China currency manipulation. The candidates largely agreed on the big issues – Obama is bad, terrorists are dangerous, Pakistan is a conundrum – but some interesting differences among the leading candidates surfaced over the course of the 90 minutes on stage and in the spin room afterwards.

A Better Debate Than Expected, but Needed More Talk of Defense Spending (Jamie Fly, National Review)

This unhealthy focus entirely on domestic economic problems also spilled over into a discussion of foreign aid. Governor Perry said that his foreign-aid budget for each country would start at zero, a notion that may be a good talking point, but in reality makes little sense. Foreign aid accounts for less than one percent of the federal budget and is an essential part of American efforts to advance our interests in the world.