Cutting foreign aid: Not the America I love

Rich Stearns, World Vision’s president and longtime friend and partner of ONE, has a tremendous piece in the Huffington Post called “Cutting Foreign Aid: Not the America I Love.” In his post, Stearns articulates cornerstone reasons why poverty-focused foreign assistance is not only a proud American value, but an effort that needs to be bolstered in these tough economic times. Separating fact from misconception, Stearns also gives us a peek at how he’d advise the current presidential candidates on efforts to save lives around the world.

Here’s an excerpt of his piece:

“If I were advising the Republican candidates, I would encourage them to clear up some misperceptions about American foreign aid.

First, American aid is a small fraction of the US budget. Aid to the poor is less than 0.5 percent of the federal budget. It amounts to 14 cents per American per day. It hardly makes sense to think we can solve our fiscal problems by cutting funding to the poorest people in the world.
Despite its small proportion to the budget as a whole, American aid is extremely effective. Three million people today are alive because of the PEPFAR AIDS program, which provides lifesaving drugs and 2.5 million AIDS orphans are being cared for. American assistance in the fight against malaria has saved an estimated 1 million lives. Preventable child deaths have declined from more than 20 million in 1960 to 7.6 million in 2010. Lives are at stake in this discussion.

Foreign aid promotes liberty and prosperity. A study of American assistance found that it led to increased democracy in the countries that received the aid. We are providing to others the freedoms we enjoy, allowing them to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This wins America friends and creates goodwill. It even leads to jobs back home as half of US exports go to developing countries….

Doing good around the world is what I love about America. I have seen first-hand the incredible work our country does. I’ve seen the goodwill it builds. I have met people who are alive today because of American assistance. I believe in America, and that is why I believe in American aid.
In his parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus told the story of the man who had compassion on the victim of robbers. While others passed by, Jesus commended the person who acted as a neighbor. ‘Go and do likewise,’ he said. (Luke 10:37)”

You can read his piece in full here.