Tell the U.S. Government to Invest in Ending Hunger and Poverty

A photograph of the author, Brooke Edwards.

By Brooke Edwards

July 28, 2011

The time to act is now. Go read this from InterAction, and then come back.

Heifer's Director of Governmental and Institutional Relations in Washington, D.C. wrote the following message.
The unprecedented din over the debt ceiling seems to overpower everything in Washington right now; but underneath it, a very real struggle over the FY2012 budget is underway, with very real consequences for the world's poor and hungry, amid new humanitarian crises in East Africa that threaten to draw away already fragile development resources. Because this year is so politically out of the ordinary, InterAction's senior legislative manager put a document together to augment the formal White House budget request to the joint Senate-Hose Foreign Operations Subcommittee. The introduction justifying the request for $5 billion includes the following language:

$5 billion is 0.03% of the U.S. GDP in 2014 or 0.14% of the total FY2012 federal budget request. This equals about what Americans spend on Halloween candy, costumes, and decorations each year, and a quarter of what we spend on sports tickets each year, 10 days of war-fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, or the cost of about one and a half of the Navy's DDG-1000 destroyers.

Those of us who work in development in D.C. are painfully aware that, save for a few NGOs and private businesses, the field of international development (and USAID's programs) have no other domestic political support base–unlike nearly every other issue in Washington. So in this world, we already have two strikes against us before we even open our mouths.

We must make our displeasure known loudly and clearly. We need to make it clear that these cuts have been noticed and are going to attract some negative attention. Members of the full Appropriations Committee especially need to hear that message.
Here's what House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers had to say about the FY2012 State and Foreign Appropriations Bill for Subcommittee Markup: "Where necessary, we have cut funding for ineffective and unproven programs." If you're already up-to-date with this issue and know that many of the programs receiving cuts are proven and effective, go ahead and tell the House Committee on Appropriations that you disagree with this assessment.
If this sounds like a lot to swallow, we'll be providing a series of summaries of the poverty-focused development and humanitarian assistance programs InterAction recommends our government support with our tax dollars (the same amount of money we spend on Halloween can make a world of difference with these programs).