April 20, 2015
The United States is generous, giving upwards of $30 billion annually in foreign aid. While critics point out that other countries give more in terms of percentage of GDP, the sum total that the United States gives is not only the highest in the world, but it also does not incorporate Defense Department, Justice Department, and even some State Department funding, nor does it include the incredible generosity of individual Americans who anecdotally give to charity far more than their non-American peers, nor does it count the cost of the US military’s humanitarian missions, for example, in the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami or the 2010 Haitian earthquake.
The billions of dollars the United States spends has fueled a Byzantine industry and few, inside or outside the aid community, believe that the system as currently designed functions well. Still, Americans believe in helping others, and few beyond perhaps the most libertarian candidates would suggest dispensing with foreign aid. Nevertheless, there are a number of issues which should be on the agenda of the next president and his team. Here are five questions that might guide them:
1. What is the purpose of foreign aid?
The United States gives foreign assistance to almost every country in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. The United States spends tax payer money not only in the world’s poorest countries, for example, Haiti, Congo, or Timor-Leste, but also in oil rich kingdoms like Saudi Arabia, hubs of technology and modernity like Singapore, and even rival powers like China. According to the Congressional Research Service, there are five main categories of foreign assistance: development aid, economic assistance to support political and security goals, humanitarian aid, American components to multilateral assistance, and military aid.
Read the full article at the American Enterprise Institute: 5 questions every presidential candidate should answer: Foreign aid edition