As reported by Yahoo! News, the Trump administration has plans to make significant cuts to foreign aid and focus more on domestic issues.  For a nation that has posted budget deficits for nearly two straight decades, one would think the government would stop wildly sending money abroad until things were in order on the home front.  Foreign aid certainly plays an important role in furthering American interests abroad via economic persuasion; however, if it is handled improperly, it simply wastes money. 

Opponents of reducing foreign aid will commonly cite that annual foreign aid expenditures commonly represent approximately 1% of the federal budget. So, what’s the big deal deal about 1%, right? Well, it’s kind of a big deal given the size of federal government outlays – $3.85 trillion for 2016 according to US Government Spending.

For the sake of argument, let’s say foreign aid is exactly one percent of the federal budget.  At that level, the allocation would be $38.5 billion,  so downplay the “small” percentage all you want, but it is not a small number when talking about actually dollar figures, keeping in mind this is a recurring annual number, not a one time outlay.

And let’s not forget about the corruption following foreign aid funds.  A cursory search on Google will provide you with multiple studies on the mismanagement and corruption involving foreign aid funds over the years, to which many analysts and researchers have purported that foreign aid is actually a catalyst for more corruption.  Based on this, we decided to look at the top 10 recipients, by money disbursed during 2016, for foreign aid and cross referenced the recipients with their corruption index rating (in parenthesis adjacent to their name) , which ranges from 1 (everything is corrupt) to 100 (no corruption)  based on Transparency International ratings.

  1. Afghanistan (15) – $665 million
  2. Jordan (48) – $393 million
  3. Pakistan (32) – $383 million
  4. Syria (13) – $291 million
  5. Yemen (14) – $144 million
  6. Palestine (N/A) – $133 million
  7. Bangladesh (26) – $114 million
  8. Sudan (14) – $101 million
  9. Iraq (17)- $58.8 million
  10. Guinea (27) – $56.4 million

Corruption Ratings courtesy of Transparency InternationalForeign Aid Information courtesy of US Foreign Aid

As you can see from the list, none of the ten countries receiving the most foreign aid from the United States scored particularly well on the Corruption Index. So, maybe cutting back on those foreign aid payments might not be such a bad idea.

Title Image via “Fire” by Mike Poresky is licensed under CC BY 2.0