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Mark Caserta: Foreign aid must be cut to bolster US stability

Dec. 05, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

The United States simply cannot sustain current levels of assistance to other countries.

According to the Treasury Department, our projected deficit for Fiscal Year 2014 is about $744 billion and our national debt is around $17 trillion, or about $52,807 per person.

I'd say it's time to keep some cash at home until we can get our own financial house in order.

From a business perspective, it's inconceivable that Congress has been operating without a federal budget for over three years. And sadly, our current mix of representation lacks the competencies required to build relationships and collaborate on viable financial solutions.

Additionally, President Obama, who is required by law to submit a budget to Congress on or before the first Monday in February of each year, has missed the mark four of the past five years and has yet to have a proposal seriously considered by either chamber of Congress.

Understand, the U.S. budgetary process is essential in determining funding levels for the next fiscal year and directly affects the monetary amounts allocated to foreign assistance programs.

The U.S. Agency for International Development states its function is to provide "economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States." The U.S. provides around $50 billion in aid to other countries each year, according to the agency.

Now, humanitarian aid, at reasonable levels, has a strong political constituency in the U.S. But development aid remains controversial, and many contend it is a waste of taxpayers' money. Multiple reports reveal inadequate oversight has resulted in billions of dollars in wasted resources.

The Commitment to Development Index (CDI) compiled each year by the Center for Global Development ranks the "quantifiable performance" of foreign aid for 27 of the world's richest countries. The index uniquely assesses multiple categories ranging from trade to technology -- not based on how much aid a nation provides, but the weighted value of the aid given.

Of the 27 countries, while the United States was by far the world's top financial donor, it ranked 19th in overall value, behind countries like Denmark, Ireland and Canada.

Conspicuously missing from the donor list was China, which recently surpassed Japan as the world's second largest economy and is forecasted to overtake the U.S. by 2016.

Yet, according to the Congressional Research Service, the U.S. provided $28.3 million in foreign assistance to China in 2012 to promote human rights, democracy, the rule of law, environmental conservation and to support Tibetan culture!

While perhaps noble in nature, do these causes supersede the fundamental needs of Americans?

What portion of U.S. foreign aid could have been re-allocated as tax subsidies for the 15 percent of Americans who were without health coverage, pre-Obamacare? And still could.

Our government has become a poor steward of the taxpayers' hard-earned money -- domestically and internationally.

And until we achieve financial stability, we must limit foreign aid to humanitarian needs and require other nations to be more assertive in their own development.

The U.S. has its own problems.

Mark Caserta is a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

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