Year after year, Congress votes to spend tens of billions of dollars on foreign aid. It's money down a rat hole. Congress should take a page from Pope Francis.
On Friday, Pope Francis blamed foreign aid for corruption and destitution in Mozambique, a sub-Saharan country where he was preaching to thousands in an outdoor arena. Despite the country's rich land and mineral resources, the Pope said, the people are trapped in poverty.
Pope Francis is right. In Mozambique, foreign aid -- including nearly $300 million a year from the U.S., props up a corrupt government that demands bribes and fails to promote economic growth.
Although President Donald Trump has tried every year to slash global foreign aid, Congress refuses, thumbing its collective nose at the public, the president -- and now even the Pope.
Instead of foreign aid, charity should start at home, especially when suicides, addiction deaths and other "deaths of despair" are soaring in the most depressed areas of America. Suicides are up 33% since 1999. The cause is economic stagnation as coal mines close, manufacturing jobs disappear, and hope fades, according to Ohio State University research published Friday.
Yet, far-off Mozambique just got a $110 million aid hike in May to improve education and health services. That money should go to schools and health clinics in Appalachia and the Ozarks, where it can actually do some good.
Tell that to Congress, which is gearing up for another foreign aid showdown this month. Spending bills, which Congress alone writes, are due Oct. 1. Trump wants a 23% cut in overall aid. In his dreams. Even his ally Sen. Lindsey Graham says Trump's proposal is dead on arrival.
Members of Congress, regardless of party, have a high and mighty attitude that American taxpayers should send their hard-earned money to every corner of the world. U.S. foreign aid totals over $50 billion a year. One-third is spent on military and security aid. An argument can be made for that. But well over $30 billion goes to health, education and other assistance, primarily to countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Brookings Institute president John Allen, a foreign aid enthusiast, slams Trump's proposed cuts, saying millions of teens in South Asia and sub-Saharan African will need "competency in science, technology, engineering and math if they are to be successful in the economy of tomorrow." What about American teens? Our STEM scores are deplorable. And over 1 million American teens drop out of high school every year.
As for the countries receiving aid, it's usually done more harm than good, according to economist William Easterly, who drew that conclusion while working at the World Bank. Countries on the receiving end remain mired in poverty.
Aid also seldom wins friends for the United States. Trump is determined to end lavishing money on our enemies. When Nikki Haley was Trump's United Nations ambassador, she objected to countries gorging on U.S. aid and then voting against us at the U.N. She warned, "When Foreign Aid Goes To Countries That Take Our Generosity And Bite Our Hand ... it's time to stop it."
Trump asked Congress to prioritize aid to America's friends. Not much to ask, but Congress refused. The president's critics call it "self-serving." It's common sense. Trump is finalizing a policy, Politico reports, to reward allies and cut off unfriendly countries.
As for Central America, globalists complain that Trump's cuts make conditions worse, resulting in more migrants on the southern border. The facts prove otherwise. Research from the Center for Global Development shows that aid does not deter migration.
Expect Congress to ignore the facts, disdain the public's opposition to foreign aid and keep squandering our money. Yet they claim to represent us.
Americans are generous. We give more to charity -- $400 billion annually -- than all national governments including the U.S. combined, according to Charity Navigator. But we get to decide where to give it.
Foreign aid has a long record of failure. Americans can see that, and so can the pope.
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York State. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.