Don’t let the U.S. slash foreign aid

By Amber Bunnell

How much funding does the United States allot to international spending? Not as much as one might think. Foreign aid currently constitutes a mere one percent of the total federal budget, and that number is in danger of dwindling even lower. Recently, both Democrats and Republicans have suggested cuts to the State Department and its global aid programs as part of an attempt to balance the American budget. These cuts, proposed by the House of Representatives and opposed by the Obama administration, would have a negligible effect on our national budget but cause devastating repercussions around the world. A drop in international funding would slow- and in some cases, halt – programs working to help nations that need it most. The cuts would slash support for emerging democracies in the Middle East, reduce disaster relief for countries severely damaged by disaster like Japan, and impede development in the poorest parts of the world. Money for food aid would fall 28 percent, equal to roughly half a billion dollars. In a world where one in seven people go to bed hungry every night and 40 percent of people live on less than two dollars a day, can we really afford not to help? Cutting international funding would also be detrimental to U.S. foreign policy. A decrease in the State Department’s budget would reduce American contributions to international organizations like the World Bank, the World Health Organization, and the United Nations, damaging our national image and our national security. In tough times it is not appropriate to simply relegate our attention to domestic issues. The United States is supposed to be a force of global leadership. Being one of the wealthiest and most powerful states on Earth comes the responsibility to help out our neighbors. This Sunday, October 16, is World Food Day, and I urge you to take some time over dinner to discuss food justice and the vital impact of American foreign aid. To combat poverty and hunger, we don’t need to grow more corn or create more GMOs. We need to educate farmers at home and abroad about changing what they grow and how they grow it to produce better foods more efficiently—and change like this is not possible without the support of the world’s superpowers. Don’t let the U.S. cut international spending. That one percent won’t solve our financial problems, but it will have devastating effects worldwide. As you sit down to Sunday dinner, please reflect on these issues, and don’t forget to sign the petition Oxfam Macalester will be tabling in the campus center on World Food Day. Let’s keep that one percent at one percent. [email protected]