THE RIGHT VOTE
We’ll keep this short:
“Vote for the Appropriations Committee recommendation for foreign operations and against any cuts that would hurt hungry and poor people."
That was the succinct message of a slide posted by Bread for the World President David Beckmann yesterday at the Alliance to End Hunger annual gathering. It was all that needed to be said in advance of next week’s scheduled vote in the Senate on the State Department’s foreign operations funding levels for fiscal year 2012 – if indeed it comes to the Senate floor. The Senate committee flat-lined the budget from fiscal year 2011 numbers, which is considered to be something of a triumph in these times of voracious cuts. Adopting those recommendations would set a high water mark; no one figures it will get any better.
The international affairs account represents only about 1.4% of the U.S. federal budget, based on FY2010 numbers. As Bread points out, programs that constitute poverty-focused development assistance was only six-tenths of one percent of the federal budget.
Despite these small percentages, the international affairs account has already been the target of disproportionate cuts. It absorbed nearly 20% of the total discretionary cuts in the FY11 budget.
Any move by the Senate to come down from its committee recommendations would be crippling for agriculture development around the world. It would be a severe blow to Feed the Future. All this, while famine is spreading in the Horn of Africa and while agriculture development is being prioritized in many developing countries based on promises of cooperation in the Feed the Future initiative.
Budget cuts would sound retreat on the emerging movement to finally reverse the neglect of agriculture development that has increased hunger and poverty over the past three decades.
“If the U.S. backs off, it will have a really debilitating impact on what other governments are doing,” Rev. Beckmann said.
The message, in short: don’t cut the poor and hungry any deeper than has already been done.