Oxfam to Washington pranksters: Don't fool with aid

By Oxfam

Washington, DC – As both sides of the aisle in Congress work with the Obama administration to strike a deal on the federal budget, international humanitarian organization Oxfam America kicks off a new advertising push to combat the dangerous misperceptions permeating Washington about global poverty-fighting assistance. The ads, which launch on April 1st, April Fool’s day, will depict an anonymous Washington “prankster” who spreads the myth that cuts to foreign assistance will close the budget gap.

“It’s time for politicians to stop fooling around with essential poverty-fighting assistance in an effort to score political points,” said Paul O’Brien, Vice President for Policy and Campaigns at Oxfam America. “Some people in Washington would have you believe that cuts to international assistance will close the budget gap. But less than one percent of the federal budget goes to international affairs programs with less than half of one percent going to life-saving poverty assistance. Cuts like this simply won’t fill the gap.”

The ads are part of a bigger push from a number of humanitarian, religious, conservation, and businesses organizations to show that cuts to the international affairs budget would have dramatic and damaging consequences to American interests and vulnerable people around the world, all without making any dent in the US budget gap.

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.

“It is simply unacceptable for politicians to continue to propagate the myth that cutting aid will solve our budget challenges on the back of millions of poor people around the world,” said O’Brien. “Americans spend about as much on candy as we do on these critical investments in a better future for our children. The American public deserves better from their elected officials.”

Notes to editors:

The PDF of the ad is available here: http://www.oxfamamerica.org/files/Oxfam-America-April-Fools-Ad.pdf

The full text of the ad is as follows:

Pranksters. Some in Congress say foreign aid cuts will close the budget gap. Yet poverty-fighting assistance makes up less than one percent of the federal budget while saving lives and helping to pull millions out of poverty. Don’t be an April Fool. Cutting aid won’t close the budget gap, but it will close the door to a better future. Learn more at www.OxfamAmerica.org/DontFoolWithAid

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