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April Fool’s ad warns against cuts to international poverty-fighting assistance

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Washington, DC – As Members of Congress consider the federal budget, international humanitarian organization Oxfam America reminded them today that cutting the tiny amount that goes to foreign aid will not solve the budget gap, but it will have dramatic impacts on people in poverty. Through an ad push just before April Fool’s Day, Oxfam declared that cutting foreign aid to balance the budget is tantamount to getting a haircut in order to lose weight. 

“Everybody loves to pick on foreign aid, since poor people don’t have high powered lobbyists making their case in Washington,” said Gregory Adams, Director for Aid Effectiveness at Oxfam America. “The penny-wise and pound-foolish nature of the cuts would barely put a ding in the budget deficit but would be devastating for poor people who are grappling with poverty and injustice.”

Many of the proposed cuts to foreign aid would come from long-term investments in fighting poverty, the kinds of investments America needs to make now in order to help countries solve their own problems, and save American money down the road.  Not only that, but these sorts of cuts pull the rug out from under people who want to work with the United States as partners to solve problems we care about, like poverty, violence, hunger, disease, and corruption.

The American public tends to overestimate how much money the US government spends on foreign aid.  Surveys report that American voters think the US spends as much as 27% of the federal budget on foreign assistance and generally support cuts to bring it down to about 13% of the budget. But when told that foreign assistance is less than 1% of the federal budget, 71% of Americans say we should either increase funding or keep it the same.

“The persistence of global poverty poses a challenge to our security, prosperity and values,” said Adams. “Cuts to effective programs, such as Feed the Future, Millennium Challenge Corporation, Global Health Initiative, Global Climate Change Initiative, will leave us without the critical tools for sustaining American leadership in building a better, safer world.”

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