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In response to plans for dramatic cuts and restructuring of US foreign aid by the Trump Administration being reported in the media, Paul O’Brien, Oxfam America’s Vice President for Policy and Campaigns, made the following statement:
“It has become clear that the Trump Administration intends to try to wrap its draconian budget cuts in the rhetoric of reform. The leaked documents make it plain for all to see that the Trump administration is not preparing a carefully constructed reform agenda to improve the effectiveness and accountability of America’s foreign assistance program.
“Reorganizing foreign aid should be based on specific goals, clear principles, and sound strategy – not an arbitrary, misguided, short-sighted effort to cut spending.
“Development and diplomacy are both critical to enhancing security, boosting prosperity, and upholding American values. And they are distinct disciplines that each requires clear lines of authority and accountability. Merging USAID into the State Department won’t enhance coordination or effectiveness; instead, it risks sacrificing our development capabilities while weakening our diplomacy. When aid is put at the service of our short term foreign-policy interests, inevitably it is wasted instead of protecting the most vulnerable.
“Worse yet, this rumored budget would eliminate the ability of the United States to do long-term development work and simultaneously diminish near-term foreign policy capacity by spreading fewer resources across a wide range of needs.
“It’s shocking to see such a careless dismissal of our nation’s development resources and responsibility at a moment of unprecedented global crisis. Today, more than 65 million people have been forced to flee their homes and 20 million are facing starvation. The reported cuts show an administration willing to dramatically cut assistance to countries recovering from Ebola, suffering from famine, and to the poorest, without regard for need.
“For example, aid to some of the poorest countries such as Madagascar and Liberia - where the average person lives on less than $500 a year – is being slashed by 45 percent. This could have dire consequences for many – for their health, for their livelihoods, for their futures.
“And as Ivanka Trump calls for women’s economic empowerment, her father’s budget seeks to eliminate funding for the Ambassador-at-large for Global Women's Issues, a development assistance funding account that historically provided over $250 million for gender equality and women’s empowerment, as well as crucial funding for agencies like the UNFPA. Talk is cheap when you don’t fund the efforts you tout. It’s clear that women’s empowerment and gender equality are on the chopping block in this budget.
“Congress must stand against this reckless move to walk away from one of America’s proudest and smartest investments. At less than a penny of every federal budget dollar, these vital programs are wise investments that ensure girls are able to go to school, small business owners can contribute to the local economy, and millions of small farmers are able to produce enough crops to prevent hunger. Instead of building on these investments and ongoing real reforms, this Administration is proposing devastating cuts that will have dire consequences for millions of people, as well as our global standing, national security interests, and the values central to America’s identity. Now is not the time to cut back on development, but to build on progress to make it even more effective.”