Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Cutting foreign aid...  

Not. Gonna. Happen. 

This budget item always tops the list for what to cut when deficit arguments start between ordinary citizens. It will never happen - at least to a significant degree, and this week just showed why.

First, how much are we talking here?
The 2010 United States federal budget spent $52.7 billion out of $3.55 trillion (1.5%) on foreign aid. $15.0 billion was military; $37.7 billion was economic aid (of which USAID received $14.1 billion).[1]  [More]
So, still less than farm bill costs. Next, who gets the money?
Israel is currently the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign aid since World War II. Although aid to Israel began in 1949 with a $100 million bank loan, large-scale U.S. assistance for Israel increased dramatically throughout the several Arab-Israeli wars in the 1960s and 1970s.
A 2012 report by the Congressional Research Service, “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel,” characterizes the historical financial relationship, types of military spending and current trends.
Among the highlights of the report are:
  • To date, the United States has provided Israel $115 billion in bilateral assistance. It is currently the second largest recipient of aid worldwide, with Afghanistan now first.
  • The fiscal year 2013 budget request “includes $3.1 billion in Foreign Military Financing [FMF] for Israel and $15 million for refugee resettlement. Within the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s FY2013 budget request includes $99.8 million in joint U.S.-Israeli co-development for missile defense.”
Now let's look at the Hagel confirmation hearing.


In fairness, Democrats are only mildly less obsessed.  But it seems clear to me what and whom our Senate thinks of first. It's not ending the longest war in our national history in Afghanistan and saving troops.

Any effort to cut foreign aid will be overwhelmed by the Israel lobby. I'm not saying this is right or wrong, but injecting a note of realism for budget hawks.

The second item on most budget cutting lists is ag subsidies, and I don't the Israel gives a hoot about them.

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