Bilateral migration & refugee assistance cut by nearly 10%
Posted by Christopher Coen on April 16, 2011
$928.5 billion in defense spending
$898 billion in health care expenditures
$787.6 billion in pensions
$464.6 billion in welfare spending
$250.7 billion on interest payments
$151.4 billion in other spending including basic research
$140.9 billion for education
$104.2 billion for transportation
$57.3 billion in protective services such as police, fire, law courts
$29 billion in general government expenses
The final horse trading between the US House and US Senate for the FY 2011 continuing resolution (CR) is done and results in a 10% reduction to refugee assistance programs. The pie chart above (at Motorgasm) shows the FY 2011 US budget final continuing resolution (CR) — HR 1473. The refugee assistance program represents just a tiny piece out of a tiny slice of the budget pie dominated by discretionary security spending (Pentagon and others) and non-discretionary entitlement programs (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc), yet cuts to foreign assistance programs is now politically popular, even though foreign assistance represents less than 1% of the budget. An article in the UK’s Guardian media source has a succinct blurb:
…Joseph Nye Jr, Harvard professor and former assistant secretary of defence, said cuts to the state department and the US foreign aid budget would fail to make any real contribution to deficit reduction, but would do serious damage to America’s global influence.
“Polls consistently show a popular misconception that aid is a significant part of the US federal budget, when in fact it amounts to less than 1%,” he said. “Thus, congressional cuts to aid in the name of deficit reduction are an easy vote, but a cheap shot.”… Read more here
International affairs spending will be $48.3, a half billion reduction from FY 2010 spending levels, although $8.4 billion less than what President Obama proposed 13 months ago, and $3.3 billion more than the version that the Republican-led US House of Representatives passed in February, HR 1.
An Inter Press Service article breaks these figures down:
WASHINGTON, Apr 14, 2011 (IPS) – While the State Department’s overall 2011 international affairs budget was cut sharply from President Barack Obama’s initial request, humanitarian and development groups are expressing some relief at the final result given the current political climate.
The 2011 continuing resolution (CR) that emerged last Friday after weeks of difficult negotiations, and which is expected to be formally approved by both houses Thursday, provides a total of 48.3 billion dollars for international affairs funding this fiscal year, which ends Sep. 30.
While that was 8.4 billion dollars less than the 56-billion-dollar request Obama submitted 13 months ago, it marked a cut of only about half a billion dollars from baseline 2010 spending levels. And it was 3.3 billion dollars more than the version that was approved in February by the Republican-led House of
Representatives, HR 1.
“The worst of the harsh and damaging cuts to international affairs accounts proposed in HR 1 were avoided,” said Samuel Worthington, president of InterAction, a coalition of some 180 humanitarian and development non-governmental organization (NGOs).
“At the same time, we are mindful of the fact that American interests and values call on us to do better,” he added. “Political turmoil and U.S. economic and strategic interests underscore that America needs to be more engaged in international affairs, not less.”
It appeared that lawmakers who forged the final deal split the difference between HR 1 and the Senate version of the CR, which was considerably more generous, albeit less so than Obama’s original request…
…bilateral migration and refugee assistance was cut by nearly 10 percent, to 1.7 billion dollars, compared to 2010, although that total was some 600 million dollars more than the total approved by the Republican-led House.
Similarly, the 1.7 billion dollars for international food aid programs represents an 11 percent cut from Obama’s request and a 17 percent reduction from 2010…
…The United Nations and other international organizations will also face significant cuts – a total of 377 million dollars, or 23 percent, less than last year’s contributions of 1.7 billion dollars and 304 billion dollars less than what Obama had requested. How these cuts will be allocated agency by agency has yet to be determined, according to Congressional staffers…
…The International Development Association, the World Bank affiliate that provides low-interest loans and grants to the world’s poorest nations, and the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development, on the one hand, suffered only nominal cuts…
…Aid specialists here also objected to the CR’s cuts in operating expenses of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) of three percent compared to 2010 and reduction of nine percent from Obama’s request, noting the agency is implementing reforms to promote transparency and accountability under its new administrator, Rajiv Shah, that have long been sought by Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike.
“The NGO community has been calling for these reforms for years, and now they’re really moving forward on them,” said Interaction’s Todd Shelton. “It’s really important that the agency be given the capacity it needs to make them sustainable and lasting.”… Read more here
Do I need to point out the irony of NGO’s, including refugee resettlement agencies, spearheading demands for more government transparency? These groups run in secrecy, with closed books, managing even less transparency (accountability to the public) than our government agencies. They are private entities conducting public activities, to a great extent using public funds.