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Little Difference Between Obama, Romney On Foreign Assistance

In the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog, Sarah Jane Staats, director of the Center for Global Development’s Rethinking Foreign Assistance Initiative, compares the foreign assistance positions of President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. “The U.S. presidential campaign has been more about saving jobs at home than saving lives abroad,” but “America’s role in the world was center stage at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York last week, where President Barack Obama decried modern slavery and Mitt Romney unveiled his vision for foreign assistance,” she writes. “The surprise: so far, Romney sounds a lot like Obama on foreign aid,” she continues.

“Obama’s White House and executive agencies have been leading initiatives to update U.S. foreign assistance and elevate development policy alongside defense and diplomacy,” but “his policymakers had a late start,” Staats writes. “Romney, who has been silent on these issues until now, is promising a modern but not new foreign aid approach,” she continues, noting, “His plan addresses the same important issues that have driven the development agendas of both Obama and his predecessor, George W Bush.” She continues, “The Democratic and Republican party platforms, unlike Romney’s remarks last week, put partisan issues — from abortion to gay rights — back in the foreign aid discussion, indicating where the congressional, if not presidential, disputes might be.” Congressional “views on climate and migration policies are even more polarized, which could have much bigger implications for developing countries and poor people around the globe than foreign aid alone,” she concludes (10/3).