The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Spared by the Sequester: $18.8 Million for Philippine Economic Development


I’m not vehemently opposed to all foreign aid; targeted and administered correctly, it can do a lot of good.

But we live in an era of $16.7 trillion in national debt. Ideally, we would be contemplating cuts to low-priority taxpayer-funded programs to help Americans and cuts to low-priority taxpayer-funded programs to help foreign citizens. But between those two, the priority doesn’t seem that difficult. At the very least, I think we could use foreign aid as leverage with regimes that have been uncooperative in the recent past, like Egypt and Pakistan. Foreign aid is a gift, not an entitlement.

(As I’ve mentioned in the past, I wonder if the U.S. suspended all foreign aid to all countries for one year, whether other countries would be more appreciative when we reinstated it . . . or whether some countries would protest and/or riot outside U.S. embassies, believing they have a guaranteed right to financial assistance from American taxpayers.)

Non-disaster, non-crisis aid to help a country like the Philippines, which is usually on friendly terms with the U.S., seems like something nice to give, but not something we need to give. If we were running a surplus, this wouldn’t be much of an issue. But every dollar that is spent today is, theoretically, a higher priority than the Defense Department civilian employees getting furloughed, or the need to keep certain illegal immigrants in detention centers, or White House tours, or any of the other examples of spending cut under the sequester.

Today’s bit of federal spending “Spared by the Sequester” is $18,897,868 to the Asia Foundation to administer programs in the Philippines:

The COMPETE Project is intended to contribute to higher growth through the better provision of infrastructure, increased competitiveness of key industries, and increased access to credit. USAID will support measures that lower transport and logistics costs, reduce the cost of electricity, and promote the expansion of businesses in the priority sectors identified in the Philippine Development Plan, primarily in tourism and agribusiness.

This contract was awarded today, April 5.

Tags: Foreign Aid , Sequester


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