Two United States of America Congressmen John McCain and Tim Kaine say the decision of President Donald Trump to cut aid to developing countries, including Nigeria, is “a penny-wise and pound-foolish error that will shift even more of the burden for stabilizing the world to the US overburdened armed services”.
In a memo to the Congress on Thursday, titled: ‘Memo to Congress: Don’t Cut Foreign Aid’, McCain and Kaine remarked that unwise budget cuts to effective, desperately needed assistance programmes would make it harder to make America safer.
“They will deprive the world of the full array of American political and moral leadership when it has never been more needed,” they argued.
“We urge the administration and our colleagues in Congress not to make that mistake.”
The Trump administration announced in March that it planned on reducing the diplomacy and foreign aid budget by 28 per cent in the next fiscal year while increasing funds for military programmes and preserving Israel’s current $3.1bn (£2.4bn) security aid package.
The Congressmen said “instability is spreading around the world”, noting that every day brings new reports of armed conflicts, acts of terrorism, humanitarian crises, and historic numbers of refugees and displaced peoples.
They further contend that development assistance programmes by the US government support military and diplomatic efforts to address these many crises, and help prevent conditions that lead to political instability and radicalisation.
In their opinion, America would be worse for such decision if taken as it currently spends less than 1 percent of the federal budget on foreign assistance.
“Just a decade ago, most of our aid was given in response to natural disasters. Today, 80 percent of our assistance provides relief and promotes stability in conflict zones and states on the verge of collapse,” they said.
“There are U.S. Agency for International Development programs in many of the countries most plagued by terrorism, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Mali, Yemen and Somalia. We’re saving lives and creating partners to help address the instability that produces the threats our military risks life and limb to fight.
“Mindful that 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the United States, we also serve our economic interests by helping others. Government support for the efforts of great organisations such as Save the Children, which works to protect the health of impoverished women and children in developing countries, or Catholic Relief Services, which offers critical humanitarian aid to those in need in times of major emergencies, is a decent, moral act on our part. At the same time, by helping reduce poverty in those societies, we’re encouraging economic growth and raising individual earning power, which in turn can open new markets for American goods and services.
“Half of the world’s fastest-growing economies are in Africa, where Americans have helped many societies address disease, natural disasters and poverty. By improving their plight, we improved opportunities for our exports and investments.
“Of course, with annual spending deficits and a large national debt, Americans must be wise about where we invest our resources. But concerns over our fiscal condition and the taxes required to sustain it have encouraged some people to assume mistakenly that our assistance to other nations is too expensive to continue at present levels.
“In reality, we spend less than 1 percent of the federal budget on foreign assistance. During the Reagan administration, we spent twice what we do today. President Ronald Reagan, fiscal and defense hawk that he was, understood that helping other nations overcome their challenges was a much less expensive way to prevent and subdue threats to our interests than risking our soldiers’ lives to defend them.”
John McCain is a Republican senator from Arizona while Tim Kaine is a Democratic senator from Virginia.