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Obama's Plan to Reduce Global Poverty

August 14, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

(This is part of a series on legislation being sponsored in the Senate by presidential candidates Barack Obama (D-IL) and John McCain (R-AZ). Subscribe to our rss feed to get the rest.)

Barack Obama’s Global Poverty Act is the most commonly criticized piece of legislation that either of the presidential candidates have introduced in the Senate. It has the distinguished position on OpenCongress of being the most opposed bill of all time, and almost all of the 110 comments left by users are extremely negative. People say that it will take away a huge chunk of American wealth and send it overseas, but are their criticisms of the bill accurate?

The Global Poverty Act calls on the United States to develop and implement a strategy to achieve a set of global poverty-reduction goals, including one that was established at the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000. According to the bill’s summary, the goals of the strategy should be “the reduction of global poverty, the elimination of extreme global poverty, and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by one-half the proportion of people worldwide, between 1990 and 2015, who live on less than $1 per day.”

These are big goals, and there has been a lot of misinformation spread about the ways in which Obama’s bill seeks to achieve them. The blogosphere, which you can see a snapshot of here, has been abuzz for months about how the bill would impose a new “”http://www.aim.org/aim-column/print/obamas-global-tax-proposal-up-for-senate-vote/“>global tax” on Americans. Even the Republican National Committee recently said that the “Global Poverty Act would raise the amount of American tax dollars allocated to United Nations’ redistribution efforts to $845 billion.”

Associating that figure with the Global Poverty Act is a mistake. The figure comes from a U.N. recommendation that developed countries should spend 0.7 percent of their GDP every year to in order to achieve the Millenium Development Goals. If the United States were to agree to this U.N recommendation, we would, in fact, spend $845 billion over the next 13 years. But, nothing in Obama’s Global Poverty Act would commit us to this spending, or, for that matter, any increased spending at all. Although one of the bill’s stated goals – “reducing by one-half the proportion of people worldwide, between 1990 and 2015, who live on less than $1 per day” – does come straight from the U.N.‘s Millenium Development Goals, it’s only one of 21 specific targets. And it’s just the target, not the strategy for achieving it, that Obama’s bill borrows.

In fact, the Congressional Budget Office, the non-partisan agency in charge of attaching budget numbers to bills in Congress, found that the Global Poverty Act “would cost ”http://www.cbo.gov/cedirect.cfm?bill=s2433&cong=110">less than $1 million per year."

The bill would cost so little because its methods for achieving global poverty reduction are basic: creating a set of benchmarks for reducing poverty, continuing existing United States initiatives related to international poverty reduction, improving the effectiveness of development assistance, enhancing and expanding debt relief, coordinating our efforts with other countries, mobilizing businesses, NGOs, civil society, and public-private partnerships to help with the effort, integrating principles of sustainable development, etc.

There is one line in the bill, however, that could lead to increased foreign aid spending. It directs the global poverty reduction strategy to make available “additional overall United States assistance levels as appropriate.” The case could be made that our next President will use this line to drastically increase foreign aid, but the bill is clearly focused on finding ways the U.S. can help reduce global poverty without spending more money.

The Conservative Pulse blog has a fairer criticism of the bill:

>In short, the measure is completely toothless and illustrates Obama’s supposed commitment to “ending global poverty” as nothing other than smoke and mirrors – a fact that should disappoint many Democrats. This is something that legislators can sign on to, and later advertise their poverty-ending efforts to their constituents. The Global Poverty Act is nothing more than a piece of paper that demands other pieces of paper

As such, it’s actually a non-controversial proposal. In fact, the House of Representatives, including every single Republican member, voted to pass the exact same bill by unanimous consent last September.

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Comments

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Spam Comment

Remixer96 08/15/2008 1:42am
in reply to Anonymous Aug 14, 2008 5:17pm

Please don’t shout in your comments. There’s no need to yell.

Additionally, it would be nice if you supported your points with more than abstract metaphors of bed making and if you elaborated on who exactly “they” are in your protest.

Anonymous 08/19/2008 6:51am

Obama has billions for Georgia. Saakashvili killed those people for the money. He will kill again as soon as Obama’s billion is gone.

Anonymous 08/19/2008 8:33am
Link Reply
+ -1

The bill is unconstitutional.

Anonymous 08/15/2008 10:08am
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+ -1

“THIS BILL AND ITS CONTENTS PROVES TO ME THAT OBAMA IS A NEO-CON, ELITIST, ILLUMINATI, AND WE ARE IN BIG TROUBLE IF HE OR McCAIN GETS IN OFFICE.”

~Don’t be a tool

Anonymous 08/15/2008 10:32am
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+ -1

What in the world is he thinking of?!

Doesn’t he KNOW that it’s SO much more impressive—- so much more American—- to spend that much money on our military—- to win over the heathens of the world through our machismatic might, rather than through our generosity?

Certainly shows that he’s no leader. Has no vision. Is not American. And DEFINITELY—- has no Christian values.

Anonymous 08/14/2008 5:18pm
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+ -2

THESE ARE THE GOALS OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER. THE U.N. HAS PROPOSED A TAX ON AMERICANS.

THIS BILL AND ITS CONTENTS PROVES TO ME THAT OBAMA IS A NEO-CON, ELITIST, ILLUMINATI, AND WE ARE IN BIG TROUBLE IF HE OR McCAIN GETS IN OFFICE.

THEY ARE TRASHING WHAT IS LEFT OF OUR CONSTITUTION, OUR ECONOMY, OUR STANDING IN THE WORLD.

OUR BELOVED COUNTRY WILL CEASE TO EXIST AND WE WILL BE THE SLAVES OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER.

IF AMERICANS DO NOT WAKE UP SOON, IT WILL BE TOO LATE…THEY ARE MAKING THEIR BED AND NOT GOING TO LIKE IT WHEN THEY HAVE TO SLEEP IN IT, SO TO SPEAK.

SHAME ON US FOR ALLOWING OUR COUNTRY TO BE HI-JACKED BY GREEDY, EVIL,POLITICIANS WHO CARE NOT ABOUT US.

YOU KNOW WHAT THEY SAY:“IF YOU ARE NOT PART OF THE SOLUTION-THEN YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM!”

ANONYMOUS.

Anonymous 08/15/2008 8:41am
Link Reply
+ -2

CBO can guarantee a million an year, no more, for 13 years; then we have a deal for all foreign aid.

Obama knows this is really the British tax Blair forces into being. We should not tax America’s GDP for foreigners. This is not constitutional.

British socialists, British Rock Stars and Blair are the ‘they.’

Anonymous 08/14/2008 5:17pm
Link Reply
+ -2

THESE ARE THE GOALS OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER. THE U.N. HAS PROPOSED A TAX ON AMERICANS.

THIS BILL AND ITS CONTENTS PROVES TO ME THAT OBAMA IS A NEO-CON, ELITIST, ILLUMINATI, AND WE ARE IN BIG TROUBLE IF HE OR McCAIN GETS IN OFFICE.

THEY ARE TRASHING WHAT IS LEFT OF OUR CONSTITUTION, OUR ECONOMY, OUR STANDING IN THE WORLD.

OUR BELOVED COUNTRY WILL CEASE TO EXIST AND WE WILL BE THE SLAVES OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER.

IF AMERICANS DO NOT WAKE UP SOON, IT WILL BE TOO LATE…THEY ARE MAKING THEIR BED AND NOT GOING TO LIKE IT WHEN THEY HAVE TO SLEEP IN IT, SO TO SPEAK.

SHAME ON US FOR ALLOWING OUR COUNTRY TO BE HI-JACKED BY GREEDY, EVIL,POLITICIANS WHO CARE NOT ABOUT US.

YOU KNOW WHAT THEY SAY:“IF YOU ARE NOT PART OF THE SOLUTION-THEN YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM!”

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