Bernie Sanders, one of the leading democratic candidates in the 2016 Democratic Party primary race, has been praised for his stance on promoting equality. Over the course of his congressional career, he has been an ally for the millions of impoverished around the globe.

In speeches, Sanders has claimed that investing in global poverty has several positive outcomes, such as lessening the instances of terrorism abroad. He has claimed that with a sound foreign aid policy, living conditions abroad are less likely to produce conflict.

Sanders has an impressive track record on global poverty to back up these claims. In 2000, he voted in the Senate to allocate $156 million from the military’s large budget to the International Monetary Fund. This was in support of the Millennium Development Goals.

In 2008, he also supported funding to combat AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. The bill he supported authorized $48 billion to various countries to combat the further spreading of these diseases.

Sanders has also demonstrated his support for combating global poverty in his statements about global warming. He has described how international conflict is produced when populations become desperate as a result of climate-related hazards, including lack of access to water and food.

Sanders has been vocal about eliminating income inequality and domestic poverty. He has shared his aspirations for putting an end to systemic forces diminishing the middle class, claiming that a more equitable economy can be created through fair taxing of corporations and banks. “America now has more wealth and income inequality than any major developed country on earth,” he said.

The presidential hopeful is devoted to redistributing America’s wealth and alleviating the 22 percent of American children living in poverty. His focus on domestic poverty and inequality is a promising indication of his future foreign aid and global poverty commitments.

Mayra Vega

Sources: Global Citizen, Votesmart, Feel the Bern, Newyorker, U.N.
Photo: Vox

Fight extreme poverty
Super PAC ONE Vote asked candidates of the 2016 presidential election to go on record regarding what they would do to fight extreme poverty if they were elected.

At this time, three of the 12 Republican candidates have responded: Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham (who has since dropped out of the race). So far, none of the Democratic candidates have responded to ONE Vote’s inquiry.

A ONE Vote 2016 organizer spoke with Cruz at a town hall event in Guthrie Center, Iowa on Jan. 4, 2016 and asked what he would do about extreme poverty in Africa.

Cruz stressed the importance of continuing investments in research and development to stop preventable diseases like AIDS. However, he did not comment on what legislation or organizations he supports that are working to reduce global poverty.

Huckabee created a video response affirming ONE Vote’s significant impact in the fight against extreme poverty. The former governor also noted that he personally visited Rwanda a few years ago with the organization and saw their work in action.

Huckabee also commends ONE for supporting the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which was created under Former President George W. Bush’s administration to save the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS. He said he feels this is something the U.S. should continue to support.

“It’s a very small investment for an incredibly large result,” Huckabee told ONE Vote regarding PEPFAR. “That result being the saving of human lives from AIDS and to make sure that there is a healthy environment, climate and safe water to drink for the people of those areas.”

A majority of the video Huckabee submitted focused more on ONE’s influence than any action he would take to alleviate extreme poverty.

Graham, who has dropped out of the presidential race, gave the most comprehensive response to how he would fight extreme poverty in his video for ONE.

Graham pledged to support PEPFAR, grow the Global Fund, grow the Millennium Challenge Corporation, increase assistance to Africa and the developing world, fight poverty and create conditions where radical Islam cannot thrive.

“To me, the one percent we spend on foreign assistance has the best return of any one percent of the entire budget,” Graham said in his video for ONE. “I am completely committed as president of the United States to growing this account and being a partner with ONE.”

Summer Jackson

Sources: CNN, OneVote16 1, OneVote16 2, OneVote16 3, PepFar
Photo: Flickr

Government Shutdown Brinksmanship Foreign Aid Cuts
Even to those who display the most passive attention to the news, it is clear that politics in Washington D.C. has reached a fever pitch. Without any doubt, the implications of what is being discussed are, in fact, no hyperbole. Beholden to special interests, factions within the Republican Party have resolved to agree on a continuing resolution to fund the government – absent defunding of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Short of passing the continued resolution, a government shutdown has taken effect. Yet, while the detractors of the ACA site economic concerns over the law, it is in our interests to consider the victims of even a short-term government shutdown.

While The Borgen Project is a non-partisan group, the implications of a government shutdown are serious and will have great effect on foreign aid and all government programs moving forward.

To put this argument into perspective, we should take an objective stance. By turning our attention towards the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), we can keep our feet rooted in the ground rather than in the clouds of ideological waffling. In their estimation, the CBO found the ACA would grant health coverage to 32 million people and raise government spending by almost one trillion dollars. While the specter of raising spending tickles the ire of republican ideologues, the CBO also found that revenues and savings would exceed this amount, effectively reducing the deficit over time.

With the non-partisan CBO stating the ACA would, in fact, benefit our economy, we must direct our attention to the victims of a government shutdown.

First and foremost, hundreds and thousands of government employees will effectively lose their jobs for the period of the shutdown. From many Pentagon employees, to park rangers, pockets will be squeezed tightly as they will not be receiving income for the period of the shutdown. Despite this, members of Congress will continue to be paid. The only bright side seems to have been President Obama’s decision to sign a bill in the midnight hour that would allow members of the military or any civilians working for the Pentagon who provide “direct support to the military” to be paid during the shutdown.

Secondly, the health of our economy is on the line. Looking back to August, 2011, our economy was dealt a blow when, for the first time in history, a credit rating agency, Standard and Poor, downgraded our rating from AAA to AA+. Dealing with confidence in markets, the mere fact that we were having the discussion we are having now was enough to reduce confidence in our economy. An actual government shutdown will have far wider and much deeper consequences.

While this is strictly political at the moment, the economic consequences will be difficult to assess until we are in the muck of it. Yet, as Obama addressed a crowd in Maryland early on Thursday, he sited the fact that even a short government shutdown will affect worse economic consequences than the proclaimed economic consequences of the ACA.

This form of brinkmanship will carry with it ramifications in all areas. If we cannot afford a cost-effective health care law in our own land, the fate of allotments for foreign aid will be the next bit of meat on the chopping block. While we call our representatives to advocate for the poor, let them know that political brinkmanship will only hurt humanity.

– Thomas van der List

Sources: MIT, NPR, ABC News, Politico
Photo: CNN Money

Republicans Support More Minimalist Foreign Policy

The above word is used a great deal when describing Republicans’ take on foreign policy. The Republican take requires America to be aggressive, taking on a very large role in worldwide interactions in order to maintain its political advantages and in order for American foreign policies to remain crucial and imperative worldwide. However, an aggressive foreign policy approach means that America has been involved in a lot of wars and conflicts across the globe, leading to increased military and defense spending. Cutting back on defense spending could push back on the many cuts the government has recently made as a result of the sequester, helping to decrease the national debt and allowing for higher spending in other areas.

Now, a new generation of Republicans, led by Senator Rand Paul, seems to be hinting at a different Republican approach to foreign policy that could do just that – cut military and defense spending. This different approach, some argue, has some elements of increasing US isolationism. Yet, ultimately, according to Senator Paul, his approach that the United States should take a more minimalist foreign policy approach is more realistic than other options. A minimalist foreign policy approach would have more limitations on presidential power and American power abroad (two areas that Rand Paul sees as needing to be limited, which he reasoned was the justification behind his filibuster of President Obama’s drone policy last week).

Whether or not this new approach will continue to be seriously considered or grow support is unknown. According to the President of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard N. Haass, Rand Paul is proposing that a more minimalist foreign policy approach would be the solution to finding a new Republican brand as they approach 2016. It would be a means of ensuring that the US overreaching in another country, as was done in Iraq and many of the US’s other ongoing military involvements, does not occur again.

In terms of foreign aid, a more minimalist foreign policy may mean a more minimalist domestic policy as well. Turning focus inward and safeguarding national interests within the United States may provide less incentive to provide foreign aid, especially in situations that involve conflict or have turbulent political implications.

– Angela Hooks

Source: NY Times
Photo: Facebook