Top Trump supporter calls for US aid to be 'very dramatically overhauled'

Newt Gingrich, a former congressman and speaker of the United States House of Representatives. Photo by: Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA

United States’ aid to developing countries needs to be “dramatically overhauled” under the incoming administration of Donald Trump, according to Newt Gingrich, a long-time supporter and advisor to the president-elect.

Gingrich, a former congressman and speaker of the House, is one of the first high-ranking Trump allies to talk publicly and explicitly about how U.S. foreign assistance could look under the incoming Republican government.

Trump has yet to appoint a “landing team” to handle the transition at the United States Agency for International Development. That has led some in the development sector to speculate that the incoming president and his cabinet will not prioritize development programs.

USAID is ready, but still waiting, for the Trump transition

Donald Trump's landing team hasn't arrived at the U.S. Agency for International Development yet, leaving sitting aid officials to wonder whether they'll have time to brief the incoming administration in person or whether their written briefings will have to do.

Speaking Tuesday at the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C., Gingrich, who has been a vocal proponent of Trump throughout his campaign, described the current U.S. aid model as bureaucratic and questioned whether this was the “best way” to do development.

“I hope that it [international aid] will be very dramatically overhauled… I would hope that they would be willing to profoundly rethink how we currently deal with aid,” he said in response to a question from Devex.

The former speaker of the House called for a new approach, and said tax breaks and investment in U.S. businesses to create jobs internationally could be a better way to “do development.”

“If our bureaucracy gives another bureaucracy money, it’s not necessarily the best way for our country to do development. If we spent the same number of dollars in tax credits for businesses who invest we would have created an amazing number of permanent jobs all over the planet,” he said.

The Heritage Foundation is playing a central role in filling positions in the new administration, Devex reported. In the past, Heritage has recommended scrapping USAID’s development assistance program and has emphasized the role of the private sector in aid.

Gingrich, who ran for president in 2012, was considered for the role of Trump’s vice president but lost out to Indiana governor Mike Pence. He was also among a list of names mentioned in press reports and by Trump allies as a contender for secretary of state.

Gingrich also characterized Trump as a “unique” leader who won the election by showing he was willing to “kick over the table” and overhaul the political system.

He described the current Trump cabinet as “smart” and said it would be well received internationally and “change the way people think about Trump.”

Stay tuned to Devex for more news and analysis of what the Trump administration will mean for global development. Read more coverage here and subscribe to The Development Newswire.

About the author

  • Sophie Edwards

    Sophie Edwards is a Reporter for Devex based in London covering global development news including global education, water and sanitation, innovative financing, the environment along with other topics. She has previously worked for NGOs, the World Bank and spent a number of years as a journalist for a regional newspaper in the U.K. She has an MA from the Institute of Development Studies and a BA from Cambridge University.