Wednesday, October 03, 2012

A look at the development aid positions of Romney and Obama

Both of the U. S. Presidential candidates spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative last week. Their speeches outlined what their goals for foreign development aid would look like if elected. A look at the positions of each reveals that both candidates have about the same agenda.

Despite what he says about "big government," Romney doesn't want to make major cut backs. Analysts say that the best hope for more foreign development aid is that the same party runs both Congress and the White House. The now Republican controlled Congress whould be more willing to support any programs Romney comes up with, while they would close the pocketbook for anything Obama proposes.

From the U.K. based paper the Guardian, we have this look at the policy positions on each
Obama's White House and executive agencies have been leading initiatives to update US foreign assistance and elevate development policy alongside defence and diplomacy. But his policymakers had a late start.
Obama picked those he wanted to lead on defence and diplomacy – Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton – well before he took office, but it took more than a year to nominate Rajiv Shah for the top job at the US international development agency, USAid, which still has key leadership vacancies. Staffing delays and two development policy reviews – one led by the White House and the other run by the State Department and USAid – consumed the better half of this presidential term.
As a result, the efforts of Obama's administration to improve the US aid architecture and approach, including gathering better data and evidence about what works, are still getting off the ground. Obama's team missed an opportunity to work with members of Congress – under Democratic leadership before the mid-term elections – to legislate changes. His development policymakers see this election as the difference between launching their policy vision, or actually carrying it out.
Romney, who has been silent on these issues until now, is promising a modern but not new foreign aid approach. His plan addresses the same important issues that have driven the development agendas of both Obama and his predecessor, George W Bush.
Romney spoke of three "quite legitimate" but familiar aid objectives during his Clinton Global Initiative remarks on Tuesday. "First, to address humanitarian need. Such is the case with the Pepfar (the President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief), an initiative that has provided medical treatment to millions suffering from HIV and Aids. Second, to foster a substantial US strategic interest, be it military, diplomatic, or economic." The third purpose, Romney said, is "aid that elevates people and brings about lasting change in communities and nations".
Romney's "prosperity pacts" sound a lot like Obama's "partnerships for growth". Both emphasise economic growth and better use of trade policy and private sector investment. Similarly, Obama and Romney both aim to be more selective about where the US gives foreign assistance to spur policy reform and prosperity, not just deliver social services. The US Millennium Challenge Corporation, created by Bush with bipartisan support from Congress, embodies the same principles.

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