The Common Good

A Vision for the Foreign Aid Budget

I would like to address the foreign affairs portion of the president's budget. World Vision, an international NGO, works in about 100 countries and we are deeply involved in development -- in such areas as the hunger crisis, clean water, malaria prevention, AIDS prevention, education, microloans, and development for schools. These are the kinds of things that help children and communities around the world, but they are also the kinds of things that make friends for America.

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The president has asked for a $4 billion increase in the foreign affairs budget which is a very strategic part of World Vision's own budget. To put that into perspective, the total humanitarian assistance budget for the world is about $25 billion a year, and the total foreign affairs budget is about $49 billion. The humanitarian portion is less than 1 percent of the federal budget and is equal to what we've given to the auto industry in the past few months.

Since January 2008, the total bailout and stimulus monies passed amount to about $2 trillion, and if we were to have that money, it would fund the humanitarian assistance budget for 80 years, just to put that into context. So in the context of these massive stimulus and bailout packages, the $4 billion increase that the president has requested is the equivalent of throwing a five cent tip into the tin cup of the world's poorest 2 billion people who are the most affected by the global economic crisis.

We at World Vision support the Kerry-Lugar amendment to restore the president's international affairs budget request. Both the House and the Senate have requested reductions to the foreign affairs budget. We believe that spending 1 percent of the federal budget to strengthen relations abroad, to strengthen our diplomacy in a challenging world, and to address the greatest humanitarian challenges of our day is not only the right thing to do but the smartest thing to do, and we support that part of the budget.

portrait-richard-stearnsRichard Stearns is the president of World Vision, a leading Christian relief and development organization dedicated to helping children and their communities worldwide by tackling the causes of poverty. This post is adapted from remarks he made recently during a media conference call announcing the Mobilization to End Poverty. Click here to listen to audio of the call.

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