During his address to the Clinton Global Initiative, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney proposed dramatic changes to the foreign aid budget-something which the pro-Israel community has repeatedly opposed because of the potential curbs on U.S. soft power and because of the potential negative long-term effects on U.S. aid to Israel. According to Foreign Policy:
Mitt Romney pledged Tuesday to shift foreign aid toward the private sector and deprioritize humanitarian aid in favor of promoting free enterprise and business development around the world.
In remarks at the Clinton Global Initiative, Romney laid out his most detailed proposals on foreign aid thus far, including his plan to move foreign aid to rely more on public-private partnerships that enlist American corporations to the cause of helping the developing world….
Romney then said he would lower the priority of foreign aid as a means to address humanitarian needs, such as health, as well as foreign aid as a means to promote U.S. strategic interests. (emphasis added) He said the foreign aid goal that will receive ‘more attention and a much higher priority’ if he is elected would be ‘aid that elevates people and brings about lasting change in communities and in nations.’
During the primary season, Romney joined with other Republican presidential candidates in recklessly calling for alterations to the foreign aid budget. As we wrote then, support for robust foreign aid packages has long been a key component of support for Israel. Perhaps Romney’s latest proposal to alter foreign aid is part of his pledge to “do the opposite” on Israel?
Previously, Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY), the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations and Related Programs, argued that the “security imperatives” of preserving a robust foreign aid program are essential to America’s national security interests. Representative Steve Rothman (D-NJ) also warned:
Cutting foreign aid will not right our struggling economy, but will ultimately cost us more in U.S. lives and taxpayer dollars. It will surely cause direct and substantial harm to America’s national security.
Further, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition-a foreign policy organization that includes the American Israel Public Affairs Committee-strongly opposes cuts to America’s foreign assistance programs because of their potential to negatively impact American interests abroad.