Why Does Senator Conrad Want to Humiliate President Obama at the G-20 Summit?

The "One" campaign against global poverty reports:

The Senate Budget Committee, chaired by Senator Kent Conrad, wants to cut $4 billion from the president's International Affairs Budget -- the part of the budget funding almost all of our anti-poverty work.

This would be terrible policy any day of the week. Recall that on February 12, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told Congress that the global economic crisis was the most serious security challenge facing the United States and that it could topple governments and trigger waves of refugees. Cutting the International Affairs budget means directly attacking the Obama administration's ability to respond to the most serious security challenge facing the United States. In particular, the cut could lead to a freeze in programs that provide life-saving treatment for people with HIV/AIDS.

But attacking the International Affairs budget this week is particularly obscene. President Obama is leaving today for the G-20 "Economic Crisis Summit" in London. The top agenda item is how to counter the effects of the global economic crisis on countries that don't have the capacity to create their own economic stimulus. Cutting the president's international aid request this week will undercut President Obama at the very moment he will be trying to argue for a coordinated international response. Other countries will say: how can you ask us to do more when your Senate is slashing your proposed increase?

As President Obama said last summer:

I know development assistance is not the most popular of programs, but as president, I will make the case to the American people that it can be our best investment in increasing the common security of the entire world and increasing our own security," he said. "That's why I will double our foreign assistance to $50 billion by 2012 and use it to support a stable future in failing states and sustainable growth in Africa, to halve global poverty and to roll back disease.

Four billion dollars is about 1/40th of the amount of money that would be saved by implementing Rep Barney Frank's proposal to cut the U.S. military budget by 25%. Or, put another way, cutting the U.S. military budget by less than 1% would pay for restoring the president's increase in international development assistance.

Fortunately, other Senators are pushing back. Senators Kerry and Lugar have introduced an amendment to restore the president's request. Ask your senators to support the Kerry-Lugar Amendment which would restore the full $4 billion for international development assistance.

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