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Heeding Gates’s Suggestions To Fill Global Development Finance Hole Without Spending More Money

In his Foreign Policy column, “The Optimist,” Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and a Schwartz fellow at the New America Foundation, responds to a speech to G20 leaders last week by Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in which he “suggested that a financial transactions tax, alongside additional taxes on tobacco and carbon, could be used to help rich countries meet a global target of committing 0.7 percent of GDP to development aid.” Kenny writes, “The outlook is particularly grim in the United States, where traditional aid is on the congressional chopping block,” but “[t]he good news is that the United States (and, for that matter, everyone else) could be doing a lot more for development without spending more money — and in some cases even saving it.”

“With the United States busy beating a retreat on global leadership in development finance, perhaps the rest of the world can use some of Gates’s proposals to fill that hole,” he writes, concluding, “But for better or worse, cuts to farm subsidies and perhaps even progress on immigration — however difficult to imagine — are far more plausible policy aims in the current environment in Washington than an expansion of aid spending” (11/7).