Join the debate: Should the US cut foreign aid?

David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, is strongly against cutting foreign aid, but acknowledges the need to introduce reforms. Photo by: Bread for the World / CC BY-NC

Putting U.S. foreign aid on the chopping block is nothing new, and many development and budget experts have already given their two cents on the matter. The New York Times renews the debate with the question: “Can’t afford foreign aid, or can’t afford to cut it?”

The U.S. government “needs to start somewhere” to reduce the country’s growing deficit, and that includes foreign aid, despite it being just 1 percent of the national budget, Public Notice Executive Director Gretchen Hamel says in an opinion piece.

Mark Green, senior director at the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition and former Republican member of the House of Representatives, agrees. At a time when governments are facing fiscal challenges, “every part of the budget should be on table.”

But both are against completely doing away with foreign aid.

Green, who helped draft initiatives such as the Millennium Challenge Act, says that before reducing foreign assistance, Congress should take note of how doing so will affect America’s position in the world. He highlights the importance of aid, a major tool in U.S. diplomacy and development, in the growth of the U.S. economy and in providing opportunities.

Hamel, meanwhile, thinks it is “foolish to cut all foreign aid.” Instead, she suggests the government should be “smarter” on how it spends taxpayers’ money — a view Mona Chalabi seems to back up.

Chalabi, a risk adviser at INCAS Consulting, said governments could try reforming foreign operations: train local staff members, make better use of technology or look into other “methods of charity” such as social investment and venture philanthropy. These eradicate the “need for capital of ‘aid’ over time,” she writes.

David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, thinks the same. While Beckman is strongly against downscaling foreign aid, he acknowledges the need to introduce reforms “to meet the unique challenges of the 21st century.”

Putting foreign aid on the chopping block is nothing new, and many development experts have given their two cents on the matter.

What do you think? Join the debate by leaving a comment below.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.