Julián Castro’s Marshall Plan
Presidential candidate Julián Castro has introduced many policies that he would implement during his presidency revolving around protecting indigenous communities, policing and education reform. One of the most pressing policies that Castro proposed revolves around immigration. With a three-part plan, Julián Castro is attempting to create an immigration policy that focuses on reforming the system altogether. However, one of the more ambitious parts of the plan deals with something he has coined as a 21st Century Marshall Plan for Central America. Julián Castro’s Marshall Plan could be a major step in solving immigration issues in both the United States and Central America.

Meet Julián Castro

Castro is no stranger to the world of politics. At a young age, he watched his mother run for San Antonio’s city council as the first woman of Mexican descent to do so. He learned the values of hard work and dedication from both his mother and his grandmother, who was an immigrant from Mexico that started her family with a fourth-grade education and a job as a housekeeper.

However, Julián Castro’s political career did not start when he decided to run in the 2020 presidential election. At age 26, he entered the San Antonio city council. Not only did he make history as the youngest councilman elected in the city, but he began his path to public service that would result in him becoming mayor of San Antonio in 2009 and then the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in 2014. Along the way, he even became the first Latino to give the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2012.

The Original Marshall Plan

In 1948, Europe had severly damaged infrastructure. World War II caused strain to Europe’s economies and disrupted agricultural production. To alleviate this issue, George C. Marshall created a plan to give roughly $15 billion to European countries. These countries used the money to rebuild cities and various economic industries for four years. In the process, these European countries and the U.S. created trade opportunities and development programs. The plan created substantial results across the continent. Industrial and agricultural production increased by over 37 percent and the overall balance of trade and economic stability improved as well.

The Marshall Plan differed from other aid programs during the time because it was a joint effort between many nations. The United States created the funding and programs that could benefit Europe, and the nations committed to implementing these programs. This plan benefitted Europe’s economic growth and reestablished the United States’ influence in the region after the war.

The Marshall Plan was also a way to test various programs concerning development and relief efforts. For example, the Economic Cooperation Administration’s model, designed to provide financial assistance to these European nations, was a model to create the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Overall, the 20th century Marshall Plan was a major step in development programs that helped Europe drastically.

A Plan for Central America

In an NPR podcast, Castro describes the importance of working to rebuild Central America for multiple reasons. For one, it helps create stronger relationships with the U.S.’s neighbors to the south. By creating an alliance with these countries, the U.S. can continue being an economic competitor with China, which is on track to pass the U.S. in becoming the largest economy in the world by 2030.

Along with the economic benefits of strengthening a region with potential trade partnership, the second major reason for assisting Central America is immigration issues. Castro states that “…if we want to solve the immigration issue, we need to go to the root of the cause…and that is that people can’t find safety and opportunity in Central America.”

Central America is a region where large numbers leave to seek asylum from violence and corrupt governmental institutions. By 2015, nearly 3.4 million people born in Northern Triangle countries (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) were living in the U.S., with over half being undocumented immigrants.

Julián Castro’s Marshall Plan

Julián Castro’s Marshall Plan would firstly target some of the root causes of violence in the Northern Triangle such as transnational criminal organizations and illicit networks. According to Castro, an increase in law enforcement programs would help eliminate criminal activities such as human and drug trafficking. Also, this plan would require a heavier focus on anti-corruption and government transparency practices. With the cooperation of leaders in Central America and the United States’ resources, the high rates of violence in the region can decrease and create safer environments and sustainable governments less susceptible to corruption.

His policy also provides more funding for programs designed to prevent violence at local levels, create jobs and support health and nutrition across Central America. By stimulating economic development through more sustainable jobs, it allows people to stay and grow their communities rather than leaving them to find better success in the United States.

The final major point that this candidate emphasizes is the importance of prioritizing diplomatic relations with Latin American countries. To ease the instability in this region, all nations have to become part of this plan. Cooperation between these nations and the United States will ultimately be the major stepping stone to creating safe and sustainable communities.

This major foreign policy proposal would only be one component of his push to tackle immigration, but his message stands clear throughout his campaign. Julián Castro’s Marshall Plan intends to put people first, and for millions of people living in Central America, that is something they can begin hoping for in 2020.

– Sydney Blakeney
Photo: Flickr

Buttigieg's Foreign Policy
The youngest of the Democratic candidates running for office in the 2020 election, people widely know and consider candidate Pete Buttigieg for his professional and academic credentials. People commonly refer to Buttigieg as “Mayor Pete” due to his current occupation as South Bend, Indiana’s mayor, but he also speaks eight languages, including Norwegian, Maltese and Arabic. Buttigieg received his Bachelor’s Degree from Harvard University in 2003, and soon after completed his postgraduate education as a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford. Between 2009 and 2017, he also served as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserves. Buttigieg’s foreign policy has also set him apart as a champion for foreign policy.

Following his speech at the University of Indiana, where he discussed his foreign policy with an emphasis on national security, TIME Magazine referred to Buttigieg as the potential “foreign policy candidate in 2020.” Notably, while most other presidential candidates have only vaguely touched upon their foreign agenda, Buttigieg’s foreign policy has made up a key aspect of his campaign.

Indeed, Buttigieg advocates for organization and forward-thinking; the country’s decisions today will lead the nation and the world in the decades of tomorrow. In his words, “we need a strategy… Not just to deal with individual threats, rivalries, and opportunities, but to manage global trends that will define the balance of this half-century in which my generation will live the majority of our lives.”

This article outlines three key aspects one should know about Pete Buttigieg’s Foreign Policy, with respect to potential effects on global poverty trends and the developing world.

End the Endless War

Buttigieg criticizes the post-9/11 legislation that allows the president to use what they deem necessary military force against any organization who assisted with the terrorist attacks. Specifically, he points out that the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) needs major correcting. A former naval intelligence officer himself, he detailed that this blank check that deployed him to Afghanistan needs changing: troops should only enter into conflict with the government’s complete understanding of the issue at hand and the possible consequences of military involvement.

According to Buttigieg, promoting a government that brings power to Congress once again in taking votes on war and peace would ensure a more careful government in its military decisions. This would especially be the case when U.S. involvement concerns vulnerable and severely impoverished countries, like Afghanistan.

Reverse Authoritarianism

Given the severity of conditions in North Korea, Buttigieg assures that he would not take any interactions with the regime lightly. Moreover, he is a clear believer in the liberal international order, which emphasizes democracy and leadership by the U.S. and its allies, as a way to greater ensure peace, prosperity and consequently lower global poverty rates.

Buttigieg believes reversing authoritarianism would require the unapologetic promotion of liberal order ideals. He also claims that the U.S. has lacked a proper foreign policy since the last presidential election, and incorporating the liberal international order and applying it in communications and relations with Russia or North Korea would bring structure to the U.S. foreign agenda.

Rejoining the Iran Nuclear Deal

Buttigieg has highlighted that as president, he would make nuclear proliferation and rejoining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, a priority in his foreign policy. The Obama administration first established the agreement in 2015 and worked to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful in exchange for lifted sanctions by Germany and the U.N. Security Council, including the U.S. While the Iran Nuclear Deal and its consequences remain controversial domestically, Buttigieg’s vow to rejoin falls in line with the liberal international order, which stresses international cooperation and alliance, in addition to democracy.

Furthermore, there has been a reported economic crisis in Iran following the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal and implemented sanctions. According to Hassan Tajik, director of the Iranian group for the development of international trade, “one of the main problems is the reduction of people’s purchasing and financial capacity, which has brought the population to the edge of poverty.” Rejoining the deal begs the question of a potential change in impoverished conditions in Iran.

While Buttigieg’s speech may not be a Buttigieg Doctrine, he outlines clear priorities in a speech about foreign policy, which may deem him more foreign policy-oriented among the Democratic candidates. Buttigieg’s foreign policy has yet to disclose his complete stances on a range of foreign policy-related issues, but his speech has indicated his desire to involve the U.S. with international affairs in a cooperative, yet cautious manner. As demonstrated, doing so can have a major impact on global poverty trends.

– Breana Stanski
Photo: Flickr

Conflict in Venezuela
In January 2019, Nicolás Maduro won the Venezuelan presidential election, bringing him into his second term as president. Citizens and the international community met the election results with protests and backlash, which has only added to the conflict in Venezuela. The National Assembly of Venezuela went so far as to refuse to acknowledge President Maduro as such. Juan Guaidó, an opposition leader and president of the National Assembly, declared himself interim president almost immediately after the announcement of the election results, a declaration that U.S. President Donald Trump and leaders from more than 50 nations support. Russia and China, however, have remained in support of President Maduro.

During his first term as president and beginning in 2013, Maduro has allowed the downfall of the Venezuelan economy. His government, as well as his predecessor, Hugo Chávez’s government, face much of the anger regarding the current state of Venezuela. Continue reading to learn how the conflict in Venezuela is affecting the poor in particular.

How Conflict in Venezuela is Affecting the Poor

Maduro’s aim was to continue implementing Chávez’s policies with the goal of aiding the poor. However, with the price and foreign currency controls established, local businesses could not profit and many Venezuelans had to resort to the black market.

Hyperinflation has left prices doubling every two to three weeks on average as of late 2018. Venezuelan citizens from all socio-economic backgroundsbut particularly those from lower-income householdsare now finding it difficult to buy simple necessities like food and toiletries. In 2018, more than three million citizens fled Venezuela as a result of its economic status to go to fellow South American countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Panama, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Argentina. However, nearly half a million Venezuelans combined also fled to the United States and Spain.

Venezuela is currently facing a humanitarian crisis that Maduro refuses to recognize. The opposition that is attempting to force Maduro out of power is simultaneously advocating for international aid. As a result, local charities attempting to provide for the poor are coming under fire from Maduro’s administration, as his government believes anything the opposition forces support is inherently anti-government.

In the northwestern city of Maracaibo, the Catholic Church runs a soup kitchen for impoverished citizens in need of food. It feeds up to 300 people per day, and while it used to provide full meals for the people, it must ration more strictly due to the economic turmoil. Today, the meals look more like a few scoops of rice with eggs and vegetables, and a bottle of milk. While the Church’s service is still incredibly beneficial, it is a stark contrast from the fuller meals it was able to provide just a few years prior.

The political and economic conflict in Venezuela is affecting the poor citizens of the country in the sense Maduro’s administration is ostracizing local soup kitchens and charities. A broader problem facing the poor is that because Maduro refuses to address the humanitarian crisis, international organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP) are unable to intervene and provide aid.

Project HOPE

There are non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are making an effort to help Venezuelans suffering as a result of this crisis. One of the easiest ways they can be of service is by providing aid and relief to citizens who have fled to other countries. Project HOPE is an organization that currently has workers on the ground in Colombia and Ecuador to offer food, medical care and other aid to those escaping the conflict in Venezuela. Project HOPE is also supporting the health care system in Colombia in order to accommodate the displaced Venezuelans there.

The current conflict in Venezuela is affecting the poor, but it is also affecting the entire structure of the nation. It is difficult to know what the outcome of this conflict will look like for Venezuelans and for the country as a whole. What is important now is to continue educating people about the ongoing crisis so that they can stay informed. Additionally, donating to Project HOPE and other NGOs working to provide aid to Venezuelans in neighboring countries would be of great help. With that, many Venezuelan citizens will know that people support them and are fighting to see progress.

– Emi Cormier
Photo: Flickr

Former presidents on foreign aidIt is not widely known how much foreign aid is being spent as a part of the national budget, especially because statistics and figures can change dramatically under different administrations and eras. The policies of former presidents on foreign aid can reflect the national and international priorities of the nation itself and what the presidents themselves valued more compared to other factors within the federal budget.

5 Former Presidents on Foreign Aid: Who Spent What?

  1. Harry S. Truman is well-known for the Marshall Plan and the Truman Doctrine. While the Truman Doctrine was to extend economic and military aid to Greece, the Marshall Plan was more inclusive as it was designed to help Western European countries rebuild after World War II, consisting of $13 billion. Other goals achieved through these means were building markets for U.S. businesses and earning allies during the Cold War.
  2. Ronald Reagan believed in budget cuts domestically, but he was a strong advocate for non-military foreign assistance. He promoted the “0.6% of GDP” minimum to be spent on foreign aid, as he believed that such aid plays a large role in foreign policy strategies. Such strategies were to create stronger U.S. allies and to promote economic growth and democracy globally. Reagan also emphasized that it is an American value to provide foreign assistance based on the U.S. founding beliefs that “all men are created equal.”
  3. Jimmy Carter was an advocate for making human rights a priority of the U.S. foreign policy. Not only did he sustain foreign aid, he also made sure to redirect the routes of such aid away from brutal regimes, such as that of Ethiopia’s Mengistu Haile-Mariam. He also ensured that foreign aid was an instrument used for luring in more American allies during the Cold War. For instance, by 1980, 75 percent of the total aid designed for Africa were redirected towards the Horn of Africa, as Mengistu was Soviet-backed.
  4. During Barack Obama’s presidency in 2011, figures on foreign aid were reported as being increased by 80 percent when compared to the reports in 2008. Foreign assistance kept increasing from $11.427 billion in 2008 to $20.038 billion in 2010 to $20.599 billion in 2011. During 2011, the aid was split into Economic Support Fund, Foreign Military Financing Program, multilateral assistance, Agency for International Development, Peace Corps and international monetary programs.
  5. In 2002, George W. Bush planned an expansion of 50 percent over the next three years through the Millennium Challenge Account which would provide $5 billion every year to countries where that governed unjustly. Additionally, Bush called for $10 billion to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean over the following five years. There were also emergency funds put aside, consisting of $200 million for famine and $100 million for other complex emergencies.

The policies of former presidents on foreign aid widely reflect their intents and objectives, such as wishing to create more U.S. allies during the Cold War or to stop health epidemics from spreading, like HIV. International assistance can be employed in differing areas of focus that all eventually reach out to help an individual or a community climb out of poverty.

– Nergis Sefer
Photo: Flickr

presidents who experienced povertyGrowing up poor can place hindrances and obstacles on the path to one’s success and achievements in life. It can hurt education opportunities, employment opportunities and recreational activities such as hobbies and skills. However, there have been American presidents who experienced poverty at some point in their lives. Despite this, each managed to climb the political ladder to the top.

Here are five American presidents who experienced poverty:

  1. Harry S. Truman – Preceded by Franklin D. Roosevelt, he was the 33rd President of the United States. His presidential term last from April 1945 through January 1953. He is well-known globally for the establishment of the Marshall Plan, the Truman Doctrine and NATO. Although Truman had a humble upbringing, he often had a chaotic financial situation due to his poor investment choices. He also had unsuccessful business ventures such as a men’s clothing store and a mining and oil company.
  2. Ulysses S. Grant – The 18th president from 1869 to 1877. Unlike Truman, he never had the opportunity to turn around his financial situation. He eventually became bankrupt after he lost $100,000 due to the fraudulent behavior of his son’s business partner. Grant was well-known for being a national hero following the Civil War after President Abraham Lincoln made Grant a brigadier general. It was only after his death that he was able to provide finances to his family, leaving them with around half a million dollars, sourced from his Civil War memoirs.
  3. William Henry Harrison – He was a farm owner so he was quite dependent on agricultural factors for his wealth. Unfortunately, while he was serving as the Ambassador to Colombia, the harsh weather destroyed his crops. This naturally steered to his failure to accumulate much wealth. Harrison was the ninth president for 31 days in 1841 before he died of natural diseases. While he may not have had much time in office to prove his capabilities, he had military experiences that stood out.
  4. Thomas Jefferson – One of the founding fathers, he was the third president of the U.S. between 1801-1809. He was the main author of the Declaration of Independence. Additionally, he served as the second vice president from 1797 to 1801. Although he started with affluence, he accumulated a lot of debt throughout his life. He was not able to take care of his debts as he could not find buyers for his land. As a result, his daughter did not inherit much and had to live off charity.
  5. James A. Garfield – He served as the 20th president of the United States in 1881 for around six months until he was assassinated. He had served as a general during the American Civil War and attempted to fight off corruption in the post office. Garfield was born into poverty and worked many jobs such as being a carpenter or a janitor so that he can get through college. Since he was dedicated to being a public servant, he did not have much room to be able to accumulate much wealth. By the time of his assassination, he was penniless.

These American presidents who experienced poverty shed light on the fact that even the brightest or the most capable among us who can lead a nation like the United States can be living in poverty. Economic empowerment and education opportunities can be presented to all talented potentials, thus eradicating global poverty and reducing global inequality in all spheres.

– Nergis Sefer
Photo: Google Images

As the leader of the United States, each past president has had a massive responsibility to serve the people of the U.S. However, many U.S. presidents have also made foreign policy a key part of their agendas. From John Adams to Barack Obama, presidents throughout American history have shared inspirational thoughts on helping those suffering from poverty across the globe in both speeches and colloquial conversation. Listed below are some of the top quotes on global poverty from U.S. presidents.

Top Quotes on Global Poverty from US Presidents:

  1. “We all do better when we work together. Our differences do matter, but our common humanity matters more.” —Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States
  2. “As the wealthiest nation on Earth, I believe the United States has a moral obligation to lead the fight against hunger and malnutrition, and to partner with others.” —Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States
  3. “To be good, and to do good, is all we have to do.” —John Adams, 2nd President of the United States
  4. “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.” —Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States
  5. “The duty of great states is to serve and not to dominate the world.” —Harry Truman, 33rd President of the United States
  6. “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” —John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States
  7. “Many in our country do not know the pain of poverty, but we can listen to those who do. And I can pledge our nation to a goal: When we see that wounded traveler on the road to Jericho, we will not pass to the other side. America, at its best, is a place where personal responsibility is valued and expected.” —George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States
  8. “We know that a peaceful world cannot long exist one-third rich and two-thirds hungry.” —Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States
  9. “Progress in the most impoverished parts of our world enriches us all.” —Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States

All in all, these top quotes on global poverty from U.S. presidents highlight the importance of investing in foreign assistance not just from a humanitarian perspective but also as it relates to bolstering the global economy. Whether it’s John Adam’s simplistic message or George W. Bush’s illustrative parable, these wise words will hopefully inspire both U.S. citizens and future presidents to support policy and fund the world’s poor.

Sam Elster
Photo: Pixabay

Top 10 Facts About JFKIt has been over 50 years since the tragic day of former president John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Regarded as one of the greatest and most influential presidents of the United States, JFK led an astounding life. He was successful both socially and politically. He has done much for the country and most of his policies are still implemented in modern U.S. society. These are the top 10 facts about JFK.

Top 10 Facts About JFK

  1. Before his time as president, John F. Kennedy served in the United States Navy as a Lieutenant and commander of a patrol torpedo boat, the PT-109. He eventually received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his astounding service during WWII.
  2. JFK served in the House of Representatives shortly after his service in the Navy for six years and would be elected to be a part of the U.S. Senate in 1952 for the state of Massachusetts.
  3. JFK was a strong advocate for foreign policy during his time in the House of Representatives, supporting the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. He also supported various other Cold War policies. This further shaped his political career, both as he ran for the presidency and during his time as president.
  4. As a senator, JFK approved President Eisenhower’s reciprocal-trade powers which give the president the power to have reciprocal trade agreements with foreign countries. He had also supported the St. Lawrence Seaway which would allow for more trade routes between Canada and the United States.
  5. JFK wrote the book Profiles in Courage (1956). It won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1957, demonstrating his talent as an author.
  6. He also founded the Peace Corps in 1961, which is an agency providing social and economic assistance to countries in need. This agency is a volunteer-based program.
  7. JFK suffered from Addison disease, in which the adrenal glands do not produce sufficient hormones for the human body causing fatigue, darkening of skin and dizziness.
  8. JFK strongly advocated for foreign aid to nations in Africa and Asia while in the Senate during the 1950s.
  9. In 1961, Kennedy visited West Berlin to protest with citizens again Nikita Khrushchev’s decision to sign a peace treaty with East Germany, which would threaten U.S. relations with Berlin during the Cold War.
  10. JFK established the Alliance for Progress in 1961, which sought to establish economic cooperation and improve social relations between Latin America and the U.S.

These are the top 10 facts about JFK. From his service during WWII to his service as president, he has greatly impacted this world, socially and politically.

Elijah Jackson
Photo: Mary Ferrell Foundation

Parliamentary System Versus the Presidential System

A nation’s type of government indicates how its executive, legislative and judicial levels are organized. There are various constitutional structures of national government throughout the world. The most popular models are the presidential system and the parliamentary system. Both systems are democracies, meaning that citizens have the power to make governmental decisions through their vote. It is critical for citizens to understand the differences between these two systems of government so that they understand the full potential of their votes, as well as their representation. To better understand the parliamentary system versus the presidential system, it’s important to examine how these systems operate within each branch of government.

The Executive Branch

Presidential systems have an executive branch that consists solely of the president. The president is an individual elected by citizens to be head of government and state for a maximum of two terms in office. The President is independent of the legislative branch. Some common responsibilities of the president are to:

  • execute and enforce laws of Congress,
  • sign the legislation into law,
  • veto bills enacted by Congress and
  • conduct diplomacy with foreign nations.

In contrast, parliamentary systems have a clear distinction between the head of government and head of state. In this system, the head of government and parliament is the Prime Minister. Rather than participating in a general election, Parliament elects the Prime Minister. Citizens elect the members of Parliament. Additionally, Parliament makes up the legislative branch of government.

The Prime Minister typically has no limit to the time they can stay in office. However, this means that they are dependent on the satisfaction of Parliament, which has the power to remove the Prime Minister from power. This can be accomplished through a no-confidence vote.

Meanwhile, within a parliamentary system, the head of state may be an elected president. But, the head of state is also commonly a hereditary monarch and acts as a figurehead for the nation.

The Legislative Branch

The legislative branch of the parliamentary system versus the presidential system may either be unicameral or bicameral. Unicameral contains one house, whereas two houses make up a bicameral system. A bicameral legislative system consists of a lower house and upper house. The lower house is where most law-making occurs. Many governments opt for a two-house legislative branch to avoid the concentration of power in one body and ensure the federal government is held accountable.

In presidential systems, the legislative branch will write law for a president to ultimately approve. Though the president may suggest laws, it is ultimately the legislative branch that will write them. In contrast, a Prime Minister will write laws along with the legislature and pass them.

The Judicial Branch

Judicial systems across parliamentary system versus the presidential system have a similar structure. Their structures are similar in that they both strive to create a separation of powers between the judiciary branch and other branches of government. However, the exact structure of these systems varies widely across various countries.

Is One Better Than The Other?

Both forms of government are organized in such a way that they both have various strengths. Due to the vote of no-confidence, it is easy to end the term of a Prime Minister within a parliamentary system. Meanwhile, it is much harder to impeach a president. However, Prime Ministers are dependent on the legislature. In contrast, presidents are completely independent of their legislative branches. They are able to make decisions that they believe are best in the nation’s interest without the influence of outside parties.

Despite all the differences between the parliamentary system versus the presidential system, it is ultimately the members of a nation who hold power. By voting, citizens can express their voice and effect change in their respective countries, no matter their system of government.

– Shreya Gaddipati
Photo: Flickr

A Timeline of President Trump's Foreign Aid Policy
President Donald Trump ran his presidential campaign with promises to put “America First” and prioritize the problems in the United States before concerning himself with the issues in other countries. Thus far, over a year into his presidency, President Trump’s administration has materialized campaign promises into actions, which they believe work towards achieving their goal of “Making America Great Again.” On multiple occasions, these actions have threatened the security and influence of U.S. foreign aid and development assistance.

The Administration has taken steps to reduce the size and scale of aid programs like The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and has also threatened to withhold aid to long-term recipient countries. Countries that receive U.S. aid use the resources they’ve been given for a wide number of projects, but the majority of them focus on poverty-alleviation efforts and development assistance. There are still at least two years left in the Presidency of Donald Trump, but here is a recap of major decisions regarding President Trump’s foreign aid policy during the first half of his administration.

2017

May 10, 2017– President Trump nominates Mark Green as the new USAID administrator. Mark Green received bipartisan support in his nomination as he has often sought to foster bipartisan approaches to U.S. foreign assistance. Green served as the former US Ambassador to Tanzania, and before that, he was acting president of The International Republican Institute.  

May 23, 2017– The White House released its 2018 budget proposal: “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.” The budget put forth by The Trump Administration requested a 33 percent reduction in funding for The State Department and USAID. The budget proposal also intimated plans to merge The State Department and USAID in order to “pursue greater efficiencies through reorganization and consolidation.”

October 2017– There were 97 applicants, already in the pre-employment process with USAID, who were denied foreign placement due to a hiring freeze imposed on the program by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Tillerson defended the hiring freeze arguing that it helped, “increase efficiency.”

Dec 20, 2017– President Trump threatened to cut off U.S. aid to any member of The U.N. General Assembly who votes for a resolution condemning his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. President Trump delivered his threat at a cabinet meeting following a letter sent to the U.N. General Assembly by U.S. Ambassador to The United Nations Nikki R. Haley, in which she warned that the U.S. would note the countries who voted for the resolution. Regardless of the threats made by President Trump, a large number of countries in The U.N. General Assembly still voted not to pursue diplomatic missions in the city of Jerusalem in order to avoid exacerbating existing conflicts between Israel and Palestine. 

2018

Jan 2018– The Trump Administration announced its plans to withhold the majority of U.S. aid to Pakistan. The White House cited the Pakistani government’s unwillingness to aggressively confront international terrorists and militant groups in their region as the reason behind the withholding of aid.

Jan 2018– President Trump ordered some $65 million to be withheld from The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). UNRWA provides humanitarian and development assistance to Palestinian refugees. The President ordered the withholding of funds noting concerns over how the organization was run.

Feb 12, 2018– The White House released its 2019 budget proposal: “An American Budget.” The proposal furthers it’s 2017 stance on The State Department and USAID requesting a 26 percent reduction of funds for the programs. The budget revealed a continuing trend in President Trump’s foreign policy to shrink the size of The State Department.

Each new president has their own understanding of the role that foreign aid plays in the advancement of American interests in the international community. President Trump’s foreign aid policy has revealed to America his hesitation to support the distribution of American resources to developing/emerging international markets. The President has emphasized his opinion that more efficient work can be done to improve America by investing more in domestic relief projects and less in international ones.

– Clarke Hallum
Photo: Flickr

how to write the PresidentThe President of the United States may seem out of reach to everyday constituents who do not hold any government office. Fortunately, the U.S. democracy is such that essentially anyone can reach the White House. The official website of the president, whitehouse.gov, makes information for contacting the nation’s highest office readily available. Web visitors can find phone numbers, with telecommunications options available for the deaf or mute, online. Furthermore, there is a form built into the site for easy email correspondence.

Though calling and emailing are fast and convenient communication methods, there may be a circumstance that calls for a letter. While the website provides basic information about how to write the president, there are a few other things a potential correspondent may want to consider:

The Paper

The White House recommends that correspondents compose their letter on 8.5 by 11-inch paper, which is the standard size for most ruled and printer paper. There are no guidelines about weight, color or fiber; communicators are free to choose whatever paper they feel is appropriate. That being said, the letter is going to pass through many hands once it arrives at the White House, so durability is an important consideration.

The Method

Choosing between a typed letter and a handwritten letter is an important decision about how to write the president. While handwritten letters tend to come across as more personal, they may be illegible. Should a correspondent choose to send a handwritten letter, use a dark ink pen and write neatly. Avoid using cursive or writing small. For typed letters, stick to a 10 to 12-point font size and avoid flowery, cursive-looking fonts.

The Message

Threats aside, correspondents can write the president about any number of topics. Whether someone wishes to voice their support or frustration, advocate for policy, give their opinion or share a personal anecdote, the White House is receptive to correspondence from the public. Letter writers should keep in mind that the president holds the highest office in the nation, and that alone garners some level of deference. Regardless of personal political opinion, it is wise to use a respectful tone when addressing the president, even if the purpose of the letter is to express discontent.

Enclosures

The White House cannot accept monetary contributions in any form. If a correspondent chooses to enclose any additional documents or photographs, it is likely that they may not be returned. Furthermore, these items may be damaged during the security screening process.

The Volume

The White House receives tens of thousands of letters and packages on a daily basis. The Office of Presidential Correspondence is the government body that receives all of these letters. Within this office, staffers, interns and volunteers are tasked with the responsibility of reading all of these letters. Generally, correspondents should not expect that their letter will actually be read by the president, although there is a chance that it may. Former President Obama made it his policy to read ten letters every night, chosen by the Director of Presidential Correspondence. President Trump may hold his own letter-reading regimen.

Though there is no real way to ensure that any particular letter makes it to the president’s desk, Fiona Reeves, who served as the Director of Presidential Correspondence during the Obama administration, provided a few insights in an interview with 99% Invisible. Reeves explained that her team sought out mail “that is geographically diverse . . . [with] different writing styles . . . and ways of communicating.” The point of passing letters on to the president is to give him a sense of what really matters to the American people. A pointed letter that helps the president feel the country’s pulse may very well find its way to the Oval Office.

Mailing

The final consideration for how to write the president has to do with the mailing. Correspondents should address their letters to:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC, 20500

Ensure to include a return address on the letter. Place a stamp in the upper right corner and mail as usual or visit a local post office for expedited mailing options. Choosing to write to the White House is an empowering civic opportunity available to anyone. Sending mail to the president is an opportunity to advocate for policies that alleviate global poverty.

– Chantel Baul

Photo: Google