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Coburn proposes cutting $190 billion from international affairs budget over 10 years

Today seems like a popular day for attacking the State Department and foreign assistance budgets, and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) doesn’t want to be left out. As part of his plan to cut $9 trillion from the federal budget over the next 10 years, he’s proposing that nearly $190 billion be cut from the international ...

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Getty Images
Getty Images

Today seems like a popular day for attacking the State Department and foreign assistance budgets, and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) doesn't want to be left out. As part of his plan to cut $9 trillion from the federal budget over the next 10 years, he's proposing that nearly $190 billion be cut from the international affairs accounts.

"When the American people are asked what government spending should be cut in order to balance the federal budget, foreign aid programs generally top the list," Coburn writes in the opening to the chapter on the State Department and foreign operations in his new plan.

Today seems like a popular day for attacking the State Department and foreign assistance budgets, and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) doesn’t want to be left out. As part of his plan to cut $9 trillion from the federal budget over the next 10 years, he’s proposing that nearly $190 billion be cut from the international affairs accounts.

"When the American people are asked what government spending should be cut in order to balance the federal budget, foreign aid programs generally top the list," Coburn writes in the opening to the chapter on the State Department and foreign operations in his new plan.

Coburn has never been a fan of the State Department and regularly proposes amendments to defund foreign operations programs. But never before has he assembled all of his ideas for international affairs funding cuts into one succinct document. And even though Coburn’s plan will likely never be implemented in full, some of the State Department targets in his sights could find their way into any grand budget deal struck between the administration, the Democrats, and the GOP.

"Proponents of foreign aid sometimes argue that it represents only 1 percent of the federal budget (actually closer to 1.5 percent), and that eliminating all of it would not solve our nation’s fiscal problems. That is true, but it is true of every other area. And just as other chapters of this report show how other budget lines have wasteful, duplicative and low-priority spending, the Department of State and its Foreign Operations budget is no different."

Here are some highlights of the savings he seeks:

  • Diplomatic and Consular Operations – $22.75 Billion
  • USAID Operating Expenses – $6 Billion
  • Educational and Cultural Exchange Programs – $5.3 Billion
  • Voluntary Funding for the United Nations and the UN Tax Equalization Fund – $22.4 Billion
  • The Asia Foundation and the East-West Center – $465 Million
  • Internation Clean Technology Fund – $3.3 BILLION
  • National Endowment for Democracy – $1.3 Billion
  • End Foreign Aid for Countries that Own Billions in US Debt – $18.3 BILLION
  • Consolidate Global Climate Change Funding – $15.4 BILLION
  • Consolidate Development Assistance with the Millennium Challenge Corporation – $17 Billion
  • Consolidate Regional Development Organizations with the World Bank – $7.9 Billion
  • Reduce Economic Support Funding – $42 Billion
  • Reduce Funding by 20 Percent to the World Bank – $3 Billion Over Ten Years
  • Reduce Foreign Military Financing – $2.5 Billion Per Year: $27 Billion

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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