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Unclear Whether Romney Would Increase Or Decrease Current Foreign Aid Budget

“In a speech to the Clinton Global Initiative on Tuesday, [Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney] acknowledged the value of foreign aid and its purpose: providing humanitarian assistance, improving security and encouraging economic growth,” but “we don’t know whether he would really protect the current budget … from further cuts if he is elected,” a New York Times editorial states. “Romney focused most of his attention on overhauling aid programs,” the editorial writes. “Romney’s call for more public-private partnerships on aid projects makes sense,” the editorial says, noting an Obama administration public-private partnership to provide cleaner cookstoves. In addition, “[h]is talk about the potentially transformative nature of American assistance and the need to invest more in small and medium-size businesses that will create jobs and lift ailing economies is also sensible and in line with administration policies,” the editorial states.

However, “[h]is plan to condition aid on a country’s promise to make reforms, including reducing barriers to American trade and investment, seems to add a twist to initiatives put in place by the Bush and Obama administrations,” and he “needs to explain more fully how this might affect countries that receive the bulk of aid: Egypt, Israel, Afghanistan and Pakistan,” it continues. The editorial says there were other “gaps” in the speech, adding, “[T]here was no mention of foreign aid’s critical role in health, agriculture, education and poverty programs.” The editorial concludes, “On the whole, though, Mr. Romney’s remarks were encouraging. Foreign aid is badly misunderstood. Many Americans believe it consumes a large part of the federal budget when it really is less than two percent. It is a crucial security asset that should be increased, not reduced” (9/26).

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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.