On Monday, Foreign Policy reporters Bryant Harris, Robbie Gramer, and Emily Tamkin shared a draft 2018 budget document (PDF) that they somehow obtained from the Trump administration. It’s a printout of a table showing how the White House would cut economic aid to the world in its 2018 budget request for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
(The White House has not yet sent to Congress a full 2018 budget request in any detail, so this is a preview of what we expect to be released during the second half of May.)
This leaked information shows only economic aid through USAID’s three principal economic and development aid accounts. (These are Economic Support Funds or ESF, Development Assistance or DA, and Global Health Programs.) It doesn’t include some economic and institution-building aid that comes through the State Department’s large International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement account. We have no idea yet whether the budget request would seek similar cuts to that aid.
For these USAID programs, every country in Latin America would see a double-digit-percentage cut from 2016 levels next year, if Congress were to grant the Trump administration what it wants. The region-wide cut would be a breathtaking 38.9 percent.
Congress will undo this radioactive budget request—somewhat. But even if the actual cuts end up being half of what is shown here, the impact on U.S. goals, on humanitarian situations, and on specific outcomes—peace accord implementation in Colombia, reducing migration from Central America—will be severe. These cuts are an astonishingly bad idea.
The table shows the economic-aid cut that the draft Trump budget would foresee for each country in Latin America. I suppose we can assume that the countries whose cuts are lower than the regional average are “priority” countries.
|Economic aid in 2016 was:||The request for 2018 is:||That’s a reduction of:|
|Barbados and Eastern Caribbean||$25,713,000||$15,000,000||-41.7%|
|State Department Western Hemisphere Regional||$209,177,000||$121,390,000||-42.0%|
|USAID Latin America and Caribbean Regional||$28,360,000||$11,800,000||-58.4%|
|USAID Central America Regional||$39,761,000||$10,000,000||-74.8%|
|Cuba (democracy programs)||$20,000,000||$0||-100.0%|
|Venezuela (democracy programs)||$6,500,000||$0||-100.0%|
|USAID South America Regional||$12,000,000||$0||-100.0%|