DEAR SUN SPOTS: I am looking for a source that will tell me how much money the United States government has given other countries over the past year or two.
I also need the reasons these funds were needed by each specific country. Trillions of dollars are going to other countries from a country that is facing another winter season, and those of us in the poverty class can barely get by. — Carol, Lewiston
ANSWER: Although the amounts are not trillions, when it comes to foreign aid plenty of Americans agree with Carol. When pollsters ask people if government spending should be cut, most say yes. But when specific programs are addressed — such as Social Security and Medicare, education, veterans aid, the military, etc. — they often say “don’t cut that.” One of the few areas that almost always has a plurality willing to see it cut is foreign aid.
As for how much we spend on foreign aid, Sun Spots found plenty of information online. Many newspapers and other media organizations periodically compile a list of top 10 recipients of U.S. funds.
On Aug. 30, the Huffington Post offered the following top 10 recipients of aid:
1. Israel, $3,075 million (just over $3 billion)
2. Afghanistan, $2,327 million
3. Pakistan, $2,102 million (about $2.1 billion)
4. Iraq, $1,683 million
5. Egypt, $1,557 million (about $1.5 billion)
6. Jordan, $676 million
7. Kenya, $625 million
8. Nigeria, $625 million
9. Ethiopia, $580 million
10. Tanzania, $531 million
The reasons for the aid vary widely. For example, in poor countries (such as in the African nations cited), the aid might be technical for improving agriculture for food production or for medicines to fight AIDS.
The aid to Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan has much to do with the wars, although Pakistan is a long-term recipient of aid.
As for Israel, that aid is among the most controversial, as it is primarily military-related as opposed to economic development. Wikipedia says economic aid to Israel ended in 2007 due to Israel’s booming economy.
There is an interactive map of aid amounts at http://foreignassistance.gov/CountryIntro.aspx
That same website, foreignassistance.gov from the U.S. Department of State, features a "foreign assistance dashboard" with data from the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The site says “these figures can be found in the annual Congressional Budget Justification submitted jointly by the Department of State and USAID and the annual appropriations bills. The dashboard also includes budget planning, obligation, and expenditure data by project for the Millennium Challenge Corp.”
The data is broken down just about every way you can imagine and is voluminous. You can enter specific criteria, such as how much is spent on a specific cause or given to a certain region. You could spend days just wading your way through all the intricacies of foreign aid.
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