Comprehensive Review Of U.S. Foreign Aid Could Help Democrats, Republicans Find Common Ground, Educate Public On Global Development’s Importance

Foreign Policy: Here’s How Republicans Can Learn to Like Foreign Aid Again
Michael Miller, consultant and adjunct associate professor at the Duke Global Health Institute

“…The [Trump administration’s] proposed cuts [to foreign aid] are the first step in what could be a contentious process between Congress and the president regarding the U.S. international affairs budget, dividing Republicans who have supported American global development leadership since the George W. Bush era but who also support overall budget savings and a stronger national defense. … In this context, one proposal that is gaining attention is some form of a comprehensive review of the U.S. foreign aid portfolio — be it top to bottom or bottom-up — with the British bilateral and multilateral aid reviews providing useful examples of what a successful process can do. Whatever the format, the outcome should be largely the same: funding priorities better aligned with overall objectives, on which Congress and the president largely agree. To be successful, an aid review process must be based on some accepted, shared points. First, only with a shared understanding of what the United States aims to achieve with its aid and how the country defines success can America effectively review aid. … Second, a review must be undertaken with the goal of improving aid effectiveness, not simply reducing costs by a predetermined amount. … Third, a comprehensive aid review must include the entire aid portfolio of the U.S. government, not just that of USAID. … Fourth, Congress and the president should agree on a process that necessarily requires action on a review’s findings or recommendations. … Finally, a review should include a conversation about the basis on which the United States sets its priorities for allocating aid — whether it is determined by need, merit, national security, the potential return on investment, or other reasons. … The answers could provide some surprises in terms of finding common ground, and would provide a much clearer explanation to a skeptical public about the importance of global development” (4/10).

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