U.S. foreign aid, international influence likely to decline

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WASHINGTON, Oct. 4 (UPI) — U.S. State Department officials acknowledged a smaller budget is probable and the country’s influence abroad likely will decline.

“We’re going to have to do more with less — or less with less, depending on how you look at it,” said Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week, “There is a democratic awakening in places that have never dreamed of democracy, and it is unfortunate that it’s happening at a historic time when our own government is facing so many serious economic challenges, because there’s no way to have a Marshall Plan for the Middle East and North Africa.”

With foreign aid amounting to 1 percent of the country’s budget, slashing the State Department’s budget would have a disproportional impact on the department, a point that is all the more valid overseas, one observer said.

“The amount of money the U.S. has or doesn’t have doesn’t really rise or fall on the foreign aid budget. The budget impact is negligible,” said Jeremy Konyndyk, director of policy for Mercy Corps, which advocates for foreign aid.

However, “The impact around the world is enormous,” Konyndyk said.

President Obama has penciled in $59 billion for the department for the year, but both the Senate and House budget plans cut that sharply.

The House appropriations subcommittee proposed a 20 percent reduction to $47 billion. The Senate proposes a cut to $53 billion.

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