Over his presidency, President Bush has made great strides to increase foreign aid, so today's announcement of cuts to core development funding is a big disappointment. Although the US is the largest donor in the world, and US assistance had been on the increase, the US still lags behind other developed countries in that our contributions are small compared to the size of our federal budget and economy.
Humanitarian responders need to have flexibility to respond to needs on the ground by the fastest and most cost-efficient means possible, be it in-kind or locally purchased food aid. Having cash contributions available for local or regional purchases could increase the speed and volume of food available to address a crisis and would enable us to feed many more people.
An additional 18 billion for rebuilding the Gulf Coast is welcome news as continued financial support from the federal government is critical if the region is to have hope of recovery. However, the details of the plan for spending these funds will reveal if the administration is committed to addressing the vast and urgent housing needs on the hurricane-devastated region.
The President's budget calls for stricter agricultural payment caps is an important reform of an outdated agricultural subsidy program is rife with abuse and loopholes and hurts small farmers here and abroad. The U.S. government spends billion of dollars each year on farm payments that are heavily concentrated in large-scale commercial operations, distorting international markets and causing controversy and unfairness in global trade.