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President’s Budget Turns Back on International Leadership and the Poorest
Oxfam America raised alarm at the reckless cuts to non-military international affairs funding outlined in the release of the President’s budget today.
“This budget is a narrow-minded, small-hearted reimagining of America’s role in the world,” said Raymond C. Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America. “Since the Second World War, presidents of both major parties advanced US interests by working to strengthen international security, end global poverty, and deepen diplomatic and cultural ties with people around the world. That tradition has bolstered American leadership in the world, but it would come to an abrupt end if Congress follows the Trump Administration’s callous blueprint.”
Oxfam America is particularly concerned with a cut of a third to foreign assistance, and slashing of funding for crucial international institutions and international climate finance.
“At a time of unprecedented global crisis, with 65 million people forced to flee their homes, multiple famines looming, and increasing havoc caused by climate change, it is unconscionable and reckless to propose devastating cuts in foreign aid, the State Department, and the United Nations, “Offenheiser added. “Today 20 million people face starvation in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria, and more than 1.4 million children could literally starve to death this year. Now is not the time to cut funding for lifesaving assistance and abandon people trapped in desperate and cruel situations.”
The President’s budget proposal comes as his Administration is battling the courts to implement a cruel Executive Order that halts the refugee program and bars any travel from six countries. The timing also coincides with the sixth anniversary of the brutal Syrian and a displacement crisis more severe than any since World War II. Oxfam estimates that these cuts in international assistance could deprive more than a million Syrian refugees, and host communities in Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, and Egypt, of immediate life-saving shelter, clean water, health services and gender-based violence support. It would also mean abandoning millions hungry people in their greatest hour of need.
As climate change is devastating communities around the world, the budget also essentially zeroes out all international climate finance and targets key initiatives at the State Department intended to build resilience and support low-emissions energy pathways. The proposed budget slashes the Green Climate Fund, a fund established to lift people out of poverty and to help countries themselves invest in inclusive, sustainable growth, and the World Bank’s Climate Investment Funds, which were established with bipartisan support under the George W. Bush administration.
“We must not let ideology trump common sense and morality,” continued Offenheiser. “What this budget signals is that the US is willing to risk the lives of millions around the world as they cope with the worst effects of a changing climate while we simultaneously line the pockets of the fossil fuel industry.”
Oxfam urges Congress to fight for the protection of international affairs funding and reclaim America’s moral compass. Investments in education, health, agriculture, and international cooperation are also investments in peace. When individuals, communities, and countries are able to provide for themselves, stability and peace typically follow. After all, countries at peace make better trading partners, safer bets for business, and stronger allies.
“The fight against global poverty is one of America’s proudest and smartest investments. At one penny of every budget dollar these low cost programs are a wise investments that ensure girls are able to go to school, small business owners strengthen the local economy, and millions of small farmers are able to produce enough crops to prevent hunger,” continued Offenheiser. “Our pennies are being put to good work and the US Agency for International Development has undertaken bold efforts to further increase the effectiveness of our foreign aid dollars. But instead of building on these investments and reforms, this Administration is proposing draconian cuts that will have devastating consequences for millions, as well as our foreign policy priorities, 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.”