Foreign Aid

Obama, Romney Overstate Foreign Aid Capabilities

Promise the moon, deliver a check


The second presidential debate, to be held on Oct. 16, will focus on foreign policy. As a trailer for that encounter, in late September, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney gave dueling speeches to the Clinton Global Initiative in which they spelled out their priorities for dealing with the developing world. While Obama took a bold stance against modern slavery, Mitt Romney spent his time discussing what he'd do with the foreign aid budget. To the relief of the occupants of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)'s headquarters in Washington, the word "slash" wasn't uttered. Instead, Romney set ambitious goals for the U.S.'s foreign aid efforts—which turn out to be similar to those elaborated by the current Democratic administration.

It's certainly refreshing to see such an example of bipartisan agreement. Unfortunately, the approach embraced by both candidates lacks understanding of what the U.S. aid budget can realistically achieve.