Barack Obama on International Aid

Last Updated : Jul 29, 2012

Summary

President Obama is a strong supporter of increased foreign aid and he views aid to nations as one of the principal arena in which the US can exert influence and increase its standing in the world. He made a number of pledges while running for office relating to doubling the amount of foreign aid given by the US and increasing debt forgiveness across the world.

Record as Senator

While in office, Senator Obama put forth legislation called the Global Poverty Act of 2007. That bill would have required the President to implement a strategy to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by one-half the proportion of people worldwide, between 1990 and 2015, who live on less than $1 per day. He also co-sponsored the Multilateral Debt Relief Act of 2005. This legislation would have instructed the U.S. executive director of each international financial institution to fully dismiss the debt of all qualifying countries.

2008 Presidential Election - Early Plan

Early in the Presidential election, Senator Obama was interviewed by a voting project for 2008. In that speech, he laid out a number of priorites and plans for future foreign. First, he stated that would double foreign aid by ramping up $6 billion a year until we added $25 billion total to foreign aid. Three priorities for this funding would be PEPFAR for HIV AIDS, a global education fund, and debt forgiveness. He also added that aid needed to be given to countries so that they could purchase technologies to avoid global warming. Finally, he wants to help establish a personnel infrastructure of teachers, doctors, nurses, and others to build countries for the future.

2008 Presidential Election - Full Plan

Later in the Presidential election, the Obama campaign released a detailed plan addressing foreign aid as part of the overall US foreign policy. The plan asserts that the perception of the US around the world is tied to our foreign aid and humanitarian efforts around the world. It also states that the security of every person in the US is directly tied to the security of every other person in the world. The bullet points from the plan are shown here with the full wording of that plan shown further down.

  • Fighting Global Poverty
    • Double Foreign Assistance to $50 billion.
    • Achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
    • Fight Corruption.
    • Eliminate the Global Education Deficit.
    • Enhance U.S. Leadership in the Effort to Combat HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria.
    • Provide Sustainable Debt Relief to Developing Countries.
  • Expanding Prosperity
    • Agriculture Initiative (AVTA).
    • A Fund for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
    • Lead Efforts to Reform the IMF and the World Bank.
  • Supporting Effective, Accountable, and Democratic Institutions
    • Support for Democracy Begins at Home.
    • Promote Freedom from Fear:
    • Increase Funding for Struggling Democrats Abroad.
    • Create a Rapid Response Fund for Societies in Transition.
  • Confronting Common Threats
    • Counter Terrorism through a Shared Security Partnership Program
    • Strengthen the Capacity of the UN and Regional Organizations to Prevent and Respond to Deadly Violence.
    • Establish Effective Global Health Infrastructure by 2020.
    • Launch the Global Energy and Environment Initiative (GEE).
  • Structuring the U.S. Government to Meet 21st Century Challenges
    • Elevate, Streamline and Empower a 21st Century US Development Agency.
    • Expand our Development Corps:
    • Strengthen the State Department’s Capacity to Prevent and Respond to Conflict.
    • Integrate Civilian and Military Capacities to Promote Global Development and Democracy.

UN Speech on the Millenial Development Goal

In September of 2010, President Obama spoke at the UN Millenial Development Goal meeting. In that speech, he outlined a new foreign aid policy consisting of 4 key points: changing how we define development, changing how we view the ultimate goal of development, a new emphasis on broad-based economic growth, an insistence on more responsibility and accountability for aid. Obviously, the President again noted his support for the Millenial Development Goal.

2011 Budget

According to the OMB estimates, President Obama's budget for 2011 placed the US on a path to double US foreign aid by 2015. It also noted increases for a number of programs that the President supported during his campaign and after he came into office. These programs include PEPFAR and agricultural programs.

Level of Aid

The amount of aid given to any one country can vary greatly from year to year in cases such ast Iraq and Afghanistan. This makes President Obama's pledge to double foreign aid difficult to monitor. The chart below shows the total amount of foreign aid since 1940. The overall amount of aid increased slightly between 2008 and 2009 going from $32.5 billion to $33.6 billion. It increased in 2010 to $37.7 billion.

 

One Vote 2008

In September of 2007, Senator Obama made a video for the ONE.org's "On the Record" program. In that video, Senator Obama pledges to double foreign through slight increments. Note that this video was made prior to the steeper declines in the US economy.

 

Campaign Plan

 

Millennium Development Goals Conference

In September of 2010, President Obama spoke at the United Nations at the Millennium Development Goals Summit. He outlines his support for the program and his dedication to foreign aid.

 

2011 Budget

The Office of Management and Budget noted on their website that the 2011 budget put the US on a path to double foreign aid by 2015.

  

 

Sponsored and Cosponsored Legislation

Session-110; Bill Number-S 2433; Global Poverty Act of 2007 - Prime Sponsor

A bill to require the President to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to further the United States foreign policy objective of promoting the reduction of global poverty, the elimination of extreme global poverty, and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by one-half the proportion of people worldwide, between 1990 and 2015, who live on less than $1 per day.

Session-110; Bill Number-S 2433; Global Poverty Act of 2007 - Prime Sponsor

A bill to require the President to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to further the United States foreign policy objective of promoting the reduction of global poverty, the elimination of extreme global poverty, and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by one-half the proportion of people worldwide, between 1990 and 2015, who live on less than $1 per day.

Session-109; Bill Number-S 1320; Multilateral Debt Relief Act of 2005 - Cosponsor

Authorizes: (1) the Secretary of the Treasury to instruct the U.S. executive director of each international financial institution (the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Inter-American Development Bank, the African Development Bank, and the African Development Fund) to reach an agreement among the shareholders to permanently cancel 100 percent of the debts owed to each such institution by an eligible country (as defined by this Act); and (2) appropriations for the U.S. contribution to such agreement if other members of the international financial institutions contribute funds for such purpose. Expresses the sense of Congress that the Secretary should pursue additional bilateral and multilateral debt relief for each country eligible for International Development Association grants. Amends the International Development Association Act to authorize, and authorize appropriations for, the U.S. Governor of the Association to contribute necessary sums to the fourteenth replenishment of the Association. Amends the African Development Fund Act to authorize, and authorize appropriations for, The U.S. Governor of the Fund to contribute necessary sums to the tenth replenishment of the Fund. Authorizes appropriations to fulfill U.S. commitments to the Enhanced HIPC Initiative (as defined by this Act).

References

[1] Website: New York Times Article: Obama Outlines His Foreign Policy Views Author: JEFF ZELENY Accessed on: 03/08/2011

[2] Website: WhiteHouse.gov - OMB Article: U.S. Department of State and Other International Programs Author: NA Accessed on: 03/08/2011

[3] Website: US Census Bureau Article: Foreign Commerce & Aid: Foreign Aid Author: NA Accessed on: 03/08/2011

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