American foreign aid needs reform
By Mary Ellen Thursby on July 15, 2009
© Springfield News-Leader
There is a vital piece of legislation currently in Congress on foreign assistance called Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act, making better use of our taxpayer money. President Kennedy implemented the Foreign Assistance Act in 1961. Almost 50 years later, there have been an incredible number of new directives, objectives and organizations created to manage foreign assistance. The changes that have happened have led to substantial disorganization and confusion with our foreign assistance system. Streamlining our overseas efforts and making better use of taxpayer money while doing a better job of ending extreme poverty seems like the logical thing to do, and there is widespread agreement in Congress. This is a no-brainer, a critical first step in making foreign assistance more effective in reducing hunger and poverty. Among its provisions is a requirement that the president develop the country's first comprehensive strategy for global development.
Even though our foreign assistance should be reorganized, it has made a difference. Globally, undernourished people fell from one in four in the 1970s to one in six today. Smallpox was eradicated due to international cooperation. Today, there are 14,000 fewer kids dying of preventable causes than there were 40 years ago.
It is purely by a lottery system we were born in a country where we aren't dying of a preventable disease. Others aren't quite so lucky. As a Christian, I am to care about my hungry neighbor here and the starving neighbor overseas. Jesus mandates that over 2,300 times in Scripture.
HR 2139 is better use of our taxpayer money. So far, 70 members of the House have signed on. I am asking Rep. Roy Blunt to cosponsor this bill.
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