The World Looks on in Incredulity, Wonder, and Fear: The Global Meaning of America’s Budget Cutting and Gamesmanship

The spectacle of the recent 2011 Budget fight  resulted in an outcome $78.5 billion dollars lower than President Obama’s original proposal. This was accompanied with the initial ideological demands to eviscerate every possible program that helps our poor, our women, our young, our aged, our sick, and the average citizen who almost universally has fallen on hard times in this economic downturn.

It does nothing to solve a budget problem which has been blown out of any proportion by the Republicans in order to destroy the government’s efforts to get our economy back from its disastrous downturn. The agreement to force the District of Columbia, with a large Black population which has no voting representation in Congress, not to spend any money for abortions with its own money, was an example of the racial prejudice and ideological bent of many Republicans on the Hill. Other countries must wonder at the motivations behind such an act and wonder how it was permitted by the President.

One of the great disappointments of the “deal” was the cut of more than $8 billion from the Department of State and USAID’s foreign assistance program. This is a devastating cut. Yet also some $13 billion was cut from the Labor, Education and Health and Human Services departments. Continue reading

American Economy & Congressional Actions: Are they Undermining American Security and Global Leadership?

We all know by now that national power and ability to act effectively at home and abroad is related to the amount of resources, talent, educational achievement, health, and social cohesion, as well as scientific and technological prowess, of a society.   What has made America great is that we invested in our people through education. And we finally tried to care for their health and well being. Mostly, America also made sure that our science and technology were the best in the world.

Now, sadly, all of these are currently apparently under threat by the Republican House of Representatives and actions by some of the most radical right legislatures in our states. Continue reading

Hillary Clinton’s Testimony on the State Department Budget

This morning, Hillary Clinton testified to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the State Department budget requests for FY 2012.  Clinton opened by discussing the importance of the State Department’s efforts in Libya through isolating their leadership and suspending them from the Human Rights Council, as well as USAID’s focus on supplying Libya with food and medical supplies as well as helping those fleeing the violence into surrounding countries.  Clinton explained the importance of needing a State Department budget that supports efforts such as these, which are vital national security tools.  The core budget request of the State Department is $47 billion, which: supports programs and relationships in every country in the world except North Korea, supports vital civilian missions in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, trains Mexican police to fight the drug cartels and help to secure the border, helps countries like Egypt and Tunisia to rebuild their countries into strong and stable democracies, and funds global health programs for HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.  Clinton closed by saying the 16% budget cut from State Department and USAID passed by the House are devastating to our national security.  (Click here for Clinton’s testimony.)

Click here for Chairman John Kerry’s opening statement.
Click here for Ranking Senator Richard Lugar’s opening statement.

Washington Post Editorial 02/24/11: A Broader Approach to National Security

Opinion article in the Washington Post, by Conor Williams, argues the importance of focusing on human security in the international arena instead of solely addressing national security in military terms.  The United States spends about one percent of the federal budget on foreign assistance, compared to the twenty percent spent on the military.  The new budget cuts could mean the United States will spend even less money on foreign aid in the future.

“As several of the world’s dictators have learned recently, political stability is about more than just military strength. Economic desperation and ineffective political institutions breed dissatisfaction that can eventually lead to uprisings.”

“It’s much cheaper to address desperate poverty and humanitarian crises before they lead to security challenges that involve military intervention. It’s also easier to help develop markets and trading partners than it is to slay all of America’s enemies. It’s in our national interest to promote human security across the globe.”