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Cutting U.S. Foreign Assistance Budget, Including Global Health Spending, ‘Would Be A Serious Mistake’

Washington Post: ‘America first’ shouldn’t mean cutting foreign aid
Michael Gerson, syndicated columnist, and Raj Shah, former USAID administrator, and both senior fellows with Results for America

“…Putting foreign assistance on the chopping block would be a serious mistake, by any definition of the national interest. … Slashing this tiny category of discretionary spending for the sake of budget control would be a form of deception — a sideshow to avoid truly important (and unpopular) budgetary choices. … [O]ver the past two decades and past two presidential administrations, health and development spending has evolved into a rigorous, innovative, and professional enterprise dedicated to measured outcomes. … But why does this emphasis on rigor and outcomes matter to U.S. foreign policy? How does foreign assistance serve definable American interests? Many of our most dangerous global challenges — such as terrorism, the drug trade, and pandemic diseases — gather strength in countries, or regions within countries, that are poorly governed, often corrupt, and marked by high levels of poverty, hunger, and disease. These places are incubators of risks to the United States. … But gains in hope, health, and stability reduce these threats and better protect Americans. … An ‘America first’ approach to foreign assistance could mean deploying foreign aid even more rigorously to help keep America safe … There are specific actions the new administration can take to deliver on this vision. It should designate a ‘coordinator for development’ who is empowered to ensure results from U.S. foreign assistance programs. … Under these circumstances, aid should be categorized in the budget as national security spending, not ‘non-defense discretionary’ spending. And the Trump national security team should make sure American leadership on these issues remains the bipartisan priority it has been for decades, starting with proposing and defending a strong budget commitment to these efforts right now…” (2/24).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.