The World’s Needy, Not America’s Problem

A new poll shows the majority of Americans want to maintain or increase government funding for every program except foreign aid.

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Aron Maasho/REUTERS

Former U.S. President George W. Bush carries an Ethiopian child whose mother is receiving HIV treatment through programs funded by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Wherefore American altruism? The Pew Research Center has released a poll showing that the majority of the American public wants either to maintain or increase spending for a host of government initiatives: the State Department, unemployment aid, military defense, aid to needy Americans, health care, environmental protection, energy, scientific research, agriculture, anti-terrorism defense, roads and infrastructure, Medicare, combating crime, food and drug inspection, natural disaster relief, education, Social Security and veterans’ benefits. The only one that did not make the cut? “Aid to the world’s needy.”

The impacts of this public opinion can be seen in the current public policy debate, as some foreign aide programs feel the pinch. President George W. Bush’s greatest legacy, some have said, was his President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, which is projected to treat 6 million people in over 70 countries from 2003 to the end of this year.  In 2012, PEPFAR treated nearly 750,000 women who tested positive for HIV, allowing approximately 230,000 infants to be born HIV-free. For 2013, President Obama requested $6.4 billion for Tuberculous and HIV/AIDS programs, including PEPFAR, totaling .17% of the budget. Federal aid overall, including military assistance, comprises of roughly 1%. Medicare, Social Security, and Defense combined make up over 60% of the budget.

Officially the Obama Administration still supports programs like PEPFAR. During his State of the Union Address, Obama himself said that an AIDS-free generation is “within our reach.” Yet the White House budget for fiscal year 2013 cuts over a billion dollars for HIV/AIDS programs, about 24 percent of its 2012 funding.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in a recent op-ed to USA Today called on the President to match his words to actions:

Cuts to PEPFAR make no sense at this time of so much promise. We cannot cede ground and risk losing the progress we have made…Now is not the time to pull back. We are in the endgame of AIDS and Obama can help the world triumph. By adding the end of AIDS to his legacy, President Obama will be remembered fondly by all future generations, grateful that he helped spare them from unnecessary suffering and needless death.

10 comments
MattRoyal
MattRoyal

This reminds me of when I was chatting with one of my more "progressive" friends in a crowd at work.  I explained that if we would just apply an additional 25% tax the top 10% of earners worldwide, we could completely eliminate hunger.  She was all for it until I explained that this would include her and just about everyone else here in the US.  Then, she was completely against it and said we needed the money here for universal healthcare.  

I'll never forget her words - "take care of your own first".

It was more important to her and the others that were there (all "Progressives") that we should fund checkups and medications for those here in the US to treat a cold or allergy than to feed those that are - literally, not figuratively - starving to death around the world.

It provided me with all the insight into the liberal mindset that I needed.  "It's good to help others as long as you can do it with someone else's money."

La_Randy
La_Randy

Anybody notice that the Halperin Article has no comments.

Given the pile that article is I guess it is a good thing.

La_Randy
La_Randy

Well according to the poll you posted, 49% want the funding for the world's needy to remain the same or increase while 48% want it to decrease.

Your headline is a little misleading unless 48 >49.

Diecash1
Diecash1

Poor, schmoor.  I need mah tax cuts.  </snark>

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

The other cooties....

Politicians w/o backbone.

AfGuy
AfGuy

@La_Randy 

Someone said he opened up for commentary ONCE... and paid a price for it. I imagine there's a pent-up reservoir that he knows exists and, regardless of the subject of the article, comments would immediately expand to include past "piles"...

grape_crush
grape_crush

Halperin almost never has comments. He can't handle criticism of his 'takes' or someone pointing out how big of a tool he is.

sacredh
sacredh

I think Alex is technically correct. 49% is a plurality instead of a majority.