International Affairs Budget Cut To The Bone

Bread for the World
Wednesday, 9 May 2001

…in time of record surpluses, how can we provide only 'a pocketful of pennies' on successful international development programs, asks president of leading faith-based anti-hunger group

Fact Sheet On Budget Agreement And Foreign Affairs Spending

[Below are a few facts and figures on international affairs spending levels in the fiscal year 2002 budget agreed to by House and Senate negotiators. Included are comparisons to current spending levels, the President's budget request, which Bread for the World believes was already far to low, and, for context, some recent findings about Americans' attitudes toward foreign aid from a recent University of Maryland poll.]

- the budget agreement cuts $7.6 billion over ten years from the President's budget request for international affairs spending, a 2.9 percent cut

- the budget agreement cuts $700 million in FY 2002 from the President's budget request for international affairs spending, a 2.9 percent cut

- International affairs spending amounts to only 1.2 percent of the total federal budget for FY 2002

FACT I: President Bush's initial FY 2002 budget proposal had already cut $200 million from current spending levels on international development, humanitarian programs and debt relief. Congress has now cut an additional $700 million for FY 2002 spending on international affairs.

FACT II: Though there are no specific foreign aid numbers in the budget agreement, we do know, for example, that for fiscal year 2001, the United States spent less than one-fourth of one percent of the total federal budget on development aid, placing the United States dead last among developed nations for percentage of gross national product devoted to poverty-focused foreign aid.

These cuts in international affairs spending occur despite a recent University of Maryland Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) poll showing:

- the percentage of Americans who want to cut foreign aid has dropped 24 percentage points, from 64 percent in 1995 to 40 percent now

- 83 percent of Americans said the United States should be willing to commit to a joint plan for cutting world hunger in half by 2015

- 75 percent said they would be willing to pay $50 a year in taxes to cut world hunger in half

- only 13 percent said spending 1 percent on foreign aid would be too much

- 81 percent want to maintain or increase aid to Africa

- 73 percent said they favored aid that helps needy countries develop their economies

Comment By Rev. David Beckmann
President of Bread for the World,
a leading faith-based, grassroots anti-hunger organization

[Bread for the World is asking Congress this year for at least $1 billion in new poverty-focused development aid for sub-Saharan Africa, the one part of the world where hunger is widespread and growing.]

"The foreign affairs part of this budget flies in the face of the Administration's rhetoric on global poverty and fails to meet the needs of the world's poor and hungry. This budget cuts already-meager foreign assistance levels to the bone and offers only a pocketful of pennies for international poverty-reduction initiatives that we know work.

"In addition, the Administration reportedly plans to announce an international initiative on AIDS this Friday, but this budget could be a straightjacket for any comprehensive plan. By further cutting effective development programs, we could miss a historic opportunity to truly fight the spread of AIDS and cut world hunger in half in less than a generation."

For more information, or to contact Bread for the World, see their website at: www.bread.org

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