Republicans are making a big show about cutting foreign aid in their quest to rein in spending and cut the deficit. And it appears that the show has an impact on how the public views the budget, since all this fuss about foreign aid has convinced people that it accounts for a quarter of the federal budget, as opposed to the actual 1% we spend on these programs. Which is why I wish all members of Congress would face this reality, brought to by a former Bush speechwriter of all people:
“No one can reasonably claim that the budget crisis exists because America spends too much on bed nets and AIDS drugs…”
Apparently that won’t stop them from trying, based on the budget debate in Congress right now.
It’s not surprising that people turn inward when facing economic hard times, but Americans have a history of being generous donors—in just one example, our citizens donated more than $22 million to Haiti earthquake relief just through the Red Cross’s text messaging program.
If you asked Americans if they would rather balance the budget by taking away from programs that cure disease, educate young people and help lift the poor out of poverty around the world, or by, for instance, bringing our troops home or ending tax cuts for the rich, which do you think they would choose? Perhaps the pollsters should think of new ways to frame their questions.