The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

What percent of US budget goes to foreign aid?

with 128 comments

Public Perception of Foreign Aid

Developmental Aid by National Income

Center for Global Development (some rights reserved: click graph)

We Americans guess, on average, that 24% of our federal budget goes to development assistance. The real number? Less than one per cent.

Despite laudable recent increases in US giving to reduce poverty, US aid as a percent of personal income is second to last among wealthy nations.

We give about 25 cents per American per day [correction:] year in foreign aid; with private giving, another dime. It’s a lot, in total, because there are a lot of us. But it’s far behind the level of sacrifice made by people in most developed nations.

Further, according to the Borgen Project:

  • Less than half of aid from the United States goes to the poorest countries
  • The largest recipients are strategic allies such as Egypt, Israel, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • Israel is the richest country to receive U.S. assistance ($77 per Israeli compared to $3 per person in poor countries).

But look what can be done:

  • The U.S. was the largest single donor in a global campaign that eradicated smallpox from the world by 1977.
  • The U.S. provided funding for a program to prevent river blindness in West Africa. As a result of these efforts, 18 million children now living in the program’s region are free from the risk of river blindness.

(Center for Global Development)

We can do better, at home and abroad.

Borgen cites the cost of two B-2 bombers ($4.4 billion) compared with the the annual budget for the World Food Program (largest relief agency in the world) which assists 104 million starving and malnourished people in 81 countries. Its budget? $3.2 billion.

Why not change it?  We can, you know.  Once we separate the illusions from the facts.

Tags: , , , , , , , , Monte Asbury

Written by Monte

September 29, 2008 at 9:06 pm

128 Responses

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  1. the average person how much of our federal budget goes to foreign aid and most will guess 24 percent. It is really less than half of one percent, next to last among

    Denver Harry

    August 4, 2017 at 6:33 pm

  2. Foreign aid is one of our most productive expenses in terms of return on investment. The few millions here and there can be chump change to us, but for the countries on the receiving end it’s a significant part of their income.
    This is because talking in pure monetary terms would radically alter the chart’s look, and thus show different conclusions than the writers want.
    Actually, the OECD reports total US ODA at 21.2 billion for 2007.


    November 17, 2015 at 7:22 am

  3. We’re a large Nation & the top 1% is outrageously affluent. The USA should provide funding for food, housing, & employment preparation for our OWN Citizens before we ‘establish alliances (give money to)’ other Countries. Period.


    September 14, 2014 at 2:41 pm

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    June 28, 2014 at 2:49 pm

  5. Foreign aid is very important for the economy, we gain strategic partners and our economy is also benefiting in a long run.

    Akaki Matcharadze

    June 27, 2014 at 2:35 pm

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    May 28, 2014 at 12:47 pm

  7. All that aid goes to the Muslims dictators. Feed the children donations goes to The Muslims and it also help paid for guns. If your church has a programs for Africa is best to donated your money to them and you only give to the church members that are going to Africa but also check out your church. Africa Christians needs trucks and money for gas and guns to kill Muslims Raider . Don’t go though the UN are your money will go to Muslims dictators


    January 27, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    • Churches should be paying taxes. Particularly if they violate the exemption by preaching politics.


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  10. CORRECTION: It is “25 cents per day”, not per year. OECD box on same page. Silly error to contradict oneself on the same page.

    global citizen

    June 8, 2013 at 3:51 pm

  11. Hey people helping the elderly,the disabled,&hungary children in our own wonderful USA is not a liberal thing, it should be an American thing.


    March 5, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    • So true! I totally agree.


      September 14, 2014 at 2:44 pm

  12. […] considers the small percentage that foreign aid constitutes in the United States federal budget. (Less than one percent of the federal budget goes toward foreign aid.) Three “libertarian” think-tanks do exactly that — and much […]

  13. […] play a role in this recurring phenomenon). Or the people who think we can balance the budget by cutting foreign aid because they think it constitutes 25% of the budget rather than the less than 1% it actually […]

  14. Exactly what “goodwill” are you talking about and how does it benefit the US? Maybe you mean the thanks we received from the Afghan population after dumping billions of dollars into their infrastructure? Oh wait…

    SGT Fati

    April 10, 2012 at 2:19 pm

  15. The US govt. reports 2010 foreign aid at $52.7 billion. ( ) I don’t know which yearly budget you are working with, but this represents more than 1% of the $3.7 trillion in ferderal expenditures for 2010. The difference is not great, but our national debt is tremendous and our economy is weak. The $52.7 billion didn’t break the economy, but it is not insignificant either.

    It is important to remember that the US participation in various treaties also benefits the other signatory nations of those treaties, often more than it benefits us. Every one of those treaties has someone who thinks they were a bad idea. Not all of those people are wrong. But these things are not counted as foreign aid, even though the cost/benefit ratio is often not to our benefit.

    Even the presense of US entities in foreign countries is a benefit to the local economies. If this were not so we would not be tolerated there. Even as an occupying force in Afghanistan, we bring money, Infrastructure improvements, the example of rule of law, and some stability – all of which were absent under the rule of nominally theocratic warlords. These expenses are not counted as foreign aid because we did them for our own reasons, but none the less they do some good in those countries.


    February 15, 2012 at 12:03 pm

  16. There are a handful of problems here. 1st the per capita contribution number is nonsensical. It assumes that there is some obligation on a national level to “give” to other countries based on your wealth. The Bible being invoked does not apply to States or even Kingdoms (in context with how it was written) it applies to people, indviduals. Nations are neither individuals or even families in the modern sense of the word nation; so, the ethical underpinning for the arguement is falacious. The U.S. is responsible for about 1/2 of all foreign aid donated – interesting, Europe has a larger population than the US by almost 80% and yet if you take Europe as a whole their per capita giving is not higher than the US. That notwithstanding, the numbers on per capita giving do not consider contributions to the United Nations. The US has the single highest contribution rate of any country in the world to the UN system. Much more than any other developed country — about 22% on average of all UN funds. If you add 22% of the UNs budget into US aid contributions then a more accurate picture emerges.

    2nd. Public agendas with regard to foreign aid are no less controversial than are private agendas. Most countries, for example, resent the focus on gender equality and LGBT issues that frame much of the democracy work carried out by the US’s major development agency and programs. Every development program funded by the US is required to have, among other things, analysis and mitigation strategies for their impact on gender equality a concept which outside the US is not exactly a slam dunk and actually undermines development. The only reason “studies” show a strong correlation between gender (women) and development is because the economic position is soo different between women and men in most places. If you give$100 to someone who has $2, it has a much bigger impact than when you give it to someone who has $500.

    Finally, as someone pointed out, it does not include military contributions including those used for pirate interdiction on the high seas or for events like the earthquake in Kashimr a few years back or the Indonesian tsunami all of which required the use of major military assets and those assets though critical were not included in the numbers. In fact, the US miliatary is the heavy lift organization used in major international disasters, and it never gets the credit – primarily because the Europeans have nothing comperable to contribute and its addition starts to make them look more puny.


    February 11, 2012 at 8:57 am

    • the more interesting problem whichi is particularly thorny from the perspective of the budget is that the majority of foreign aid is not actually given to foreign countries but to a handful of US firms doing business abroad. Note the work of Ray Lahood’s son in Egypt. Democracy work done by a US firm, paying the largest portion of its personnel expenses to US expats working to promote democracy in Egypt. The money doesn’t actually go to foreign countries but to a US company … makes you wonder who is in bed with whom.


      February 11, 2012 at 9:06 am

  17. The term “Foreign Aid” and all the discussions here seem to presuppose, that this money is actually used in some manner which actually “AIDS” the country to which it is given, and doesn’t just go down a rat hole into the pockets of the politicians! I am not convinced that most of it isn’t squandered. But, regardless, WE ARE BROKE! WE CANNOT AFFORD THIS! WAKE UP PEOPLE! We cannot pay back the money we owe now, and the $17 trillion hole we are still digging is threatening to become a sinkhole that will swallow ALL OF US! If you can’t see this you are either blind, or a seditious communists, who is actually rooting for the demise of America! I wonder who will support the world once we fall into the abyss?


    January 24, 2012 at 9:40 am

  18. A deterent? You mean besides all the nuclear subs, and ICBMs? Russia and China and any superpower would never attack us whether we have B2s or not. As for radicals? they could care less. The deterrent thing is old thinking.


    December 13, 2011 at 4:50 pm

  19. Oct 31 2011 , UN states we now have 7 Billion people on earth, US reports they will spend 700 Billion on Nuclear weapons, This makes sense right??? It’s only $100 per person to kill everyone on earth. All this when we have more homeless and out of work then we did during the GREAT Depression, yet every yes EVERY elected official in ALL parties are making more then ever in history. When, if ever, will we have the balls to stand-up and say ENOUGH of this. If it were a company and it was losing more then ever in history and the principles were taking more out then ever in history what would happen? What would the investors do? Just a question!!!


    December 8, 2011 at 3:27 pm

  20. […] about the nature of our “foreign aid” program. In fact in real terms it represents only about 1% of the total government budget. The vast majority of money pledged as foreign aid is not a gift; most of it comes right back into […]

  21. […] directly for aid, even a small percentage of those funds would significantly increase what the US currently contributes. Also, imagine hypothetically how much further the dollars would have gone towards the rebuilding […]

  22. I like this response & support it wholeheartedly !!

    Frank G. Mead, Jr.

    July 29, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    • …..AND – everyone who is talking about “foreign aid” is only talking about “non-military foreign aid”….”MILITARY foreign aid” costs not 40B per year but more like 700B per year – and that is just what is “tracked” – a LOT more of of it is “discretionary” spending – which is tracked by no one….we are bleeding people!


      August 1, 2011 at 8:16 am

  23. Great post Monte; in the past two months that I have been mostly in the US; I keep hearing these self-righteous rants from my family indicating that the US is giving the poor of the world generously!


    July 26, 2011 at 7:56 am

  24. Thanks for this post!!! it lays out the issues with foreign aid in our budget so clearly, more people need to know these numbers. Let’s not forget women though! Just 1 billion of U.S. dollars to family planning (a minuscule amount of the budget) would decrease maternal deaths by 40,000 and infant deaths by 700,000 people, there would be 21 million fewer unintended pregnancies and over 8 million fewer abortions. Can you believe that the leading cause of death for girls 15-19 in most poor countries is complications from pregnancy and childbirth!? Empowering women and girls while ensuring access to reproductive health services is the first step to alleviating poverty and ensuring sustainable development. As a nation, we can do a lot better to help the poorest of the poor.


    July 25, 2011 at 6:47 pm

  25. Amir ronen,
    You joking right? All the wars not started? We ( AMERICA ) haven’t been able to go twenty years without a war. Look it up or do the math. Also it was AMERICAN money that funded osama because we couldn’t keep our noses out of there THEN after all the foriegn aid, he turns on us. We need to stop global trade and buying substandard crap from the rest of the world and keep our money right here at home. If some other country wants aid we’ll send them a box of cereal.

    Keith A. Sillsbury

    July 25, 2011 at 1:59 pm

  26. Foreign aid is one of our most productive expenses in terms of return on investment. The few millions here and there can be chump change to us, but for the countries on the receiving end it’s a significant part of their income. The diplomatic capital we earn with that less than one percent expense is huge. With that diplomatic capital we can push our american economic interests when it comes to global trade. We can get better deals on imports and exports. But the most valuable thing we get from the soft power of foreign aid is the prevention of military conflicts and in the process saving American lives. So the immeasurable value of money and lives gained and saved through foreign aid doesn’t only pay for itself, but has better return on investment from any other US budgetary expense today.

    Amir Ronen

    July 17, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    • Brilliant comment – thank you, Amir!


      July 17, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    • BS Stop all foreign aid until our country is back on target, I’ll take the 3.2 billion back in our coffers. It is time for other countries to feed their own.

      Texas Star

      July 20, 2011 at 6:21 pm

      • I feel all foreign aid needs to be stopped until our country is back on solid ground and absolutely ended before one red cent is cut from any domestic program here in our country,really the lousy gop wants to make the poor and disabled and our seniors suffer but they wont stand up and stop sending money to countries that hate us I mean they wont pay our bills and wants to try and sell their crap about how they are wanting to stop our gov.from raising our debt but they wont step up to the plate when it comes to foreign aid GIVE ME A BREAK.


        March 5, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    • Very nicely put, if you are a politician. Let’s use a common phrase – How’s that working our for ya?. How many wars have not been started? Better deals on imports, etc are made by supply and demand. Everyone wants to sell to the USA because it is a huge market all in one place. Do we get more respect from all this expense? Not at present! Who do we have diplomatic capital with these days? Even the Brits don’t like us, not to mention the Israelis. Do we really want countries to like(?) us because of our money? The facts are that we now have close to ZERO friends or someone who could be called an ally. $50-billion may seem like a little but tell that to all the people who have lost their jobs or homes. Fix the problems here first, then worry about the others, period.


      July 24, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    • I disagree. I don’t see anyone here discussing the REAL cost of foreign aid. A great deal of USA military spending is used to protect countries other than our own. We still have troops in Korea, we still provide most of Japan’s defense and our fleet of mega billion dollar aircraft carriers are almost always far from home fighting for someone else’s freedom. When you consider how our military is used for others benefit the USA is by far the most generous nation. Most free nations today would be living in tyranny without our military. Count among them most of the free world’s major economies, who could afford their own defense but instead spend their money on social programs for their people while the USA covers most of the defense bill. We could cut our military spending by 75% or more simply by bringing ALL of our troops home and by defending our own shores only. The USA spends more on defense than the next 20 largest nations combined. 20% of our federal budget is military spending, so we could save a lot by defending ourselves only.


      January 5, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    • You have a good point there Amir. But, if we were to pull out of Afghanistan and let Iran get the upper hand, we could build our military defenses and have nothing to worry about. Therefore, we could stop giving $3 billion a year to those damn towelheads and worry about our own people. As the U.S goes further in debt, the number of homeless American citizens increases.


      March 9, 2012 at 9:07 am

  27. Mexico, which is the 10th richest nation on earth is bankrupting the United States and we do NOTHING about it! Instead of giving money away like candy, to people who dont appreciate it, lets instead teach them to stand up for themselves. Then we wont have a stream of illegals and criminals coming to our country , because of the “easy pickins” !

    Curt Miles

    June 30, 2011 at 10:09 am

  28. well it seams I’ve some how miss read. so lets do the math again. 311X92 that 28+ billion. wheres the rest?

    Keith A. Sillsbury

    May 30, 2011 at 1:15 pm

  29. WOW! this article is another example of how statistics can be twisted to say what you want. whats in the scope and what to ignore? 25 cents per American per year? well, the American population is 311 million and foriegn aid is 50 Billion per year. 25 cents doesn’t add up, does it! is this the new math I’ve been hearing about? More wall street BullSh**? Heres a real solution to multiple problems like foriegn aid, Stop any money from leaving our country just for starts. If a country needs FOOD, pay a premium to US farmers for their crop to send to those countries. That way we stop farm subsidies and feed the hungry and US funds don’t fall into the wrong hands. Clothing, Cloth the world! Pay US companies that Manufacture in the US that Employ US citizens for cloths to send to other countries. we THE USA send 50 billion per year to other countries to help them and yet CHILDREN right here in our backyard starve. I’d rather starve the entire world then to let this continue all around me right here at home! lets get some real numbers, tell me how effective our spending on fighting terrorism is? 90%? 80%? more like 15%! if this were a grade in school, you’d be KICKED OUT!

    Keith A. Sillsbury

    May 30, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    • Statistics here is in no way twisted. The number given of $92 a year is pretty accurate if you ask me. 92 * 311 000 000 = 28 612 000 000

      And I hope you of course understand that such actions would most likely result in an international backlash. Last year was a semi-big scandal in Sweden about United States. A Swedish glass manufacturer had won a contract to produce glass for the American embassies. When, of course, the American public got hold of this information, demanding that the contract should go to an American manufacturer. The result was a lowering in Swedish investments in American companies and people were even encouraged to avoid buying American products.

      Point being that what comes around, goes around. If United States avoid investing and spending money on other countries that would strike back. And frankly, United States is not even close to be able to sustain an isolationist economy. Furthermore, giving them a bunch of cloths and food would not nearly solve the problem they were sent for. You would just become their providers. Sending money or making sure that the money is spent on developing their local production of for example clothing and agriculture, would be a way for them to start off their own economy and thus in the future become self-providing.

      To finish this off I can say that the money spent on your allies are a waste or the money that should be focused on removing.


      May 31, 2011 at 2:53 pm

      • Of course we are not ready sustain an isolationist economy, we send our money overseas rather than keeping it at home and building our own base. Do away with Foreign Aid, Foreign Military Sales, Aid to the UN, Aid to any other Aid organization. We have fed the world for years and have only made them lazy and resentful toward us. Kind of like Welfare, the more you give the less they do.

        Texas Sun

        July 22, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    • YEA!!! My sentiments EXACTLY

      Texas Star

      July 20, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    • AMEN

      Rick Adams

      July 25, 2011 at 2:41 am

  30. You notice that these articles about how terribly miserly the US is *always* talk about “percent of GDP” when talking about amount of aid given.

    This is because talking in pure monetary terms would radically alter the chart’s look, and thus show different conclusions than the writers want.

    Lies, damned lies, and statistics.


    May 19, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    • GamerfromJump: using percentage instead of an dollar amount by itself will not cause a false situation. What you could do is go to the office of management and budget website.

      “Total, Direct loan disbursements 2010 Total, Discretionary budget authority 2,3 . 49,293 in millions of dollars”
      Total outlays in millions of dollars $3,456,000.

      equals 49293/3456000 = .01426% of budget. About 3/4 goes to what we think of as aide to people 1/4 directly to military use. It has already been determined that people never receive 1/2 of the aide intended for them.


      May 20, 2011 at 2:03 am

    • Of course they talk about percentage of GDP. It’s a way to equal out the differences between the rich and poor, the big and the small. It’s the same as if you would say that Bill Gates is a better American because he pays X million dollars in taxes while Mr. Johnson in North Dakota only pays Y dollars. Ok maybe not the best of comparisons but you catch my drift. A country with 311 million people and claiming to be the worlds largest economy of course will dominate the crap out of a smaller country with 70 million people. It’s simple logics really.

      Another example is from my homeland, Sweden. Recently Swedens population is complainging that we take in too many immigrants. According to statistics we take in around four times as many immigrants as UK does, per capita. On that field, and same in economics, it’s impossible not to break it down per capita. Because how would a country with 9 million be expected to take in 2 million immigrants each year?
      Same with foreign aid. How can a nation with 9 million be expected to match the aid US can send out?


      May 31, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    • There’s no other reasonable way to talk about it. We Americans do not sacrifice as much per person in foreign aid as do the people of many other countries. It is a higher priority to them than it is to us.


      July 17, 2011 at 3:35 pm

  31. Let’s cut all foreign aid. Remove the UN from New York. Afterwards, we evaluate each and every request for foreign aid based on need, and whether that country is true allies. The aid should only last for one year, and must be reapplied every year and subject to approval. The bottomless pit of spending, both domestic and foreign, must stop. Each and every American has to live within a budget, and our government needs to do the same.

    Sensible Spending

    May 5, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    • The foreign aid we give is such a miniscule part of our budget (<1%) that stopping it would barely be noticed here at home, and would result in tragedy abroad.

      We are a nation of military spending – more than half of our discretionary budget – and that part is terribly poorly accounted for; plugging some of that sinkhole would have us out of trouble in fairly short order. It will take a direct challenge from the American people to do it, though, because hundreds of defense contractors have gotten fat, rich, and powerful on our money.


      July 17, 2011 at 3:42 pm

  32. […] ALL Foreign Aid: The US already gives next to nothing compared to the total money in the budget when you stack us side by side with the rest of the […]

    • Right you are. In terms of dollars per person, we are far behind other nations.


      May 9, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    • THAT IS TOTAL BS we provide food, money and security to most of the world, if the US was to stop exporting wheat, corn and other grains and stop protecting them these countries would not exist.

      Rick Adams

      July 25, 2011 at 2:45 am

  33. All the latest Federal Budget News


    April 14, 2011 at 8:46 pm

  34. […] article on foreign aid: This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. ← Chevron […]

  35. […] Money spent on welfare and education is a pittance to Medicare or farm subsidies, for example, and foreign aid is still less than 1% of the budget. For me as a young person, it was an eye-opening example of what is perceived versus what […]

  36. […] a large portion of its blood and treasure to international programs. However, in reality, we spend less than one percent of the budget on international aid. According to one statistic, this boils down to $94 dollars per […]

  37. It’s not really the amount that is the problem. It’s the constitution, and the misuse of the word “charity”. In a free nation, the federal government robbing people of their hard earned to redistribute to foreign governments is simply deplorable without regard to the cause. There is no constitutional authority for it. And “charity” is given freely by the donor to the recipient. Tax dollars are NOT given freely. It’s not yous to give, Mr. President, Mr. Congressman, and Mr. Senator.

    William James

    April 2, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    • “In a free nation, the federal government robbing people of their hard earned to redistribute to foreign governments is simply deplorable without regard to the cause.”

      You, sir, do not understand the Constituion. Stop the uninfornmed hyperbole. We are a representative republic. Dictators rob; our representatives represent us and make daily decisions of what to do with our tax dollars. There is NO robbery involved.

      Based upon the polls, the majority of Americans are in favor of their representatives allocating their tax dollars to foreign aid. It’s the PEOPLE who ultimately give the president, the congressman, and the senator the authority to spend their tax dollars on foreign aid.

      You may disagree with the actions of your representative, and every two years you have the constitutional right to try to vote that person out of office. Good luck.

      T Vance

      April 16, 2011 at 10:42 pm

      • Bravo! Well said! This idea that taxation is robbery is surely the perfect example of self-serving hyperbole. It’s the kind of exaggeration that robs Libertarians of credibility.


        May 9, 2011 at 7:14 pm

      • What polls do you speak of? Please back up your post with links to prove your statements.


        April 10, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    • No court of law in all the world would agree that taxation is robbery; that is twisting the truth for the advantage of your argument. Don’t libertarians believe in telling the truth?


      May 9, 2011 at 7:19 pm

      • Stop harping on an extreme term of ‘robbery’ and the cloak of ‘constitutionality’ by the poster. Taxes are coerced payments which are not up to the individual to choose whether to make. Charity is. That was the point. To verify, try not paying your taxes next April, and not paying your donations to church or other charities and see which turns out better for you…

        Just because there are some libertarians who are particularly bad in trying to argue this or who conjure up invalid arguments in support doesn’t mean that the contention is incorrect.


        August 8, 2011 at 3:43 pm

  38. […] […]

    This makes sense to me,

    March 30, 2011 at 1:33 pm



    March 23, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    • I believe we should cut our foreign aid by 20% for 5 years as some of the countries we are sending monies too do not even like us. I believe our charity should be right here in our country where we have our own people living on the street, and losing their property because of no jobs and no money.

      John A Emanuele

      April 8, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    • .2% is the amount. And you want to cut it by 20%. That would be pennies.


      May 2, 2011 at 9:32 pm

      • Bravo – good comment! And one of the few that has any factual grounding to back it up. Thanks!


        May 9, 2011 at 7:10 pm


    This is the kind of stuff we spend our foreign aid on. Has anyone forgotten that we still have elderly people eating cat food who are not able to pay for their meds. Stop Foreign Aid until we have no more poverty in this country.


    March 10, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    • Eating “cat food”, why would someone on a tight budget spend more money to eat cat food, than buy most
      Brands of tuna fish? That cat food story is a myth that has gone around for years. Check out facts, not strange emails


      February 5, 2012 at 5:42 pm

  41. Why would I want to take a hit on my social security monthly payment just to send money to foreign countries that just hate AMERICA. Plus, just look at the econamy here.
    Thousands of homes have been repossessed, jobs have been lost. Education has been hit hard. HAVE OUR POLITICIANS TAKEN A REDUCTION IN PAY? HOW ABOUT THEIR SUMMER HOMES? HOW ABOUT THE POLITICAL PARTIES (LUNCHEONS)? Our politicans are supposed to be our leaders elected by us, but are they working FOR us? I say give them a swift kick in the back side and tell them to strsighen up or else they WILL BE REPLACED. There apparently is too much back scratching going on. WHERE IS THE AMERICAN VOICE? DOES’NT ANYONE REALLY CARE WHAT HAPPENS?????????


    March 9, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    • i agree with bill why are we giveing our hard earned money to other countries like Pakastan that even hide teriost against us . LETS TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN FIRST MY OWN MOTHER CAN NOT AFFORD HER PERSCRIPTIONS BECAUSE THEY ARE SO EXPENSIVE AND SHE IS STILL WORKING AT 78 YEARS OLD. and who gave congress the right to vote on their own raises i need a job like that. lets kick them all out and start fresh with no one haveing all of the conections .scrach my back and i will rip my state’s people off.


      May 4, 2011 at 8:48 am

  42. It looks to me like no one is quite sure how much is spent on aide to foreign countries. It depends on who you are asking. All I know is that it is our money and no one asked us to vote if we wanted to send our money to other countries. We have homeless hungry people in our own country. People are losing their homes and jobs. Schools are laying off teachers and education is suffering. Without educated children how will our country survive. Take care of our own first.
    We citizens have to stay within our personal budgets,why can’t our country do the same. We need financial experts from the private sector to analyze how our government is wasting money.

    Geri Albright

    February 15, 2011 at 11:58 am

  43. If the United States reduced ALL types of Foreign Aid, Humanitarian and Military, by 20% for one year—Russia and Isreal alike—what would be the required reductions to Social Security, Medicare and other programs to assist our own poor and disabled? The United States must not Balance the Budget on the Backs of her own citizens who can least aford it.

    Edward Wittkamper

    February 15, 2011 at 12:48 am

  44. […] a rounding error in Military and entitlement expenditures.…Insert a dynamic date hereView All 0 CommentsCannot add comment at this time. Add […]

  45. We spent almost $114 Billion on Israel. They don’t need this. Foreign aid to other countries to be used to help not to kill others like in Israel’s case. They also put down our reputation in the world by giving military aid to Israel to kill civilians. Stop the spending on Israel so we can heal the US’s fiscal and reputation problem.


    February 13, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    • We DON”T spend $113 Billion on Israel – the TOTAL amount of 2010 foreign aid is only $33 billion and only $1 billion goes to Israel(this from the State Department’s web page


      February 17, 2011 at 1:33 pm

      • What other countries jump in to help? I would appreciate this information to be made public. Why is the monkey placed on the Americans back so that we (Americans) have to be peace keepers of the entire world and foot the bill??????????????????? This question needs to be answered…..


        March 9, 2011 at 10:09 pm

        • i agree this country used to be able to have one parent stay home and raise our children correct but now it takes both parents to work to even afford the things we have. we have a war against a country and then foot the bill to take care of its people better than ours and rebuild it. LETS START VOTEING SMART.


          May 4, 2011 at 8:53 am

        • It isn’t hard to find these numbers with just a little digging. Try Googling “foreign aid per person by nation.” The USA gives less per capita than nearly any other western industrialized nation.


          May 9, 2011 at 7:26 pm

          • Try Googling “defense spending by nation”. Then think about how much of that is spent to protect US shores versus protectiong the freedom of other nations around the world. You’ll soon realize that the good ‘ol USA is footing a large portion of the defense bill for most of the free world, and that most of them are free due to blood and treasure given by Americans. Without this country, there wouldn’t be a “free world” to worry about today.

            What’s the value of that?

            At least 15% of our federal budget is spend defending the freedoms of others an dit dwarfs the contributions of all other nations combined.


            January 5, 2012 at 11:02 pm

      • Israel gets more than $1 billion a year.. it is more like $3 billion a year. I say ALL cuts must start with foreign aid. After foreign aid is reduced to $0 we can start cutting programs for US citizens.

        Mitchell Davis

        July 13, 2011 at 10:09 am

    • Isreal is one one our most important allies, if not THE MOST important. I am not Jewish, but I know that our aid is well spent there. Get a list from the state department and look at the aid we are sening to countries that would like to wipe us off the face of the map. Could it be that you might be from Iran or some other country who would like to see Isreal become non-existant?

      sam ralph

      March 11, 2011 at 12:12 pm

      • Israel is our most important ally. as recent events has shown. We give billions of aid that we do not have and what do we have to show people that hate us, lets show them real hatred. let us use the weapons to defend Israel. Maybe they will see. debt Israel has never been a burden as some who say the are allies, I was a christian at one time but I would have to be a jew now.


        May 3, 2011 at 10:40 am

  46. Does anyone have a bottom line figure for all USA expenditures? I emphasize all aid. This what I find as an answer:

    “Geographic summary data
    is no longer offered.

    The data from ?? different
    accounts must be summed.

    ESF – MCC – IMET – FMF – INCLE – GHCS – DA, etc.

    This will take hours.”

    H B Tuurtellott

    February 13, 2011 at 12:30 pm

  47. I say stop all aid until we cure our debt problem. When our country is completly free of all debt, then we can look at giving foreign aid. When our country is free of poverty then we can consider overseas giving. What right does anyone have to take money from me in the form of tax and give it to any one else, let alone an non U.S. citizen? Charity starts at home. Most of the money goes to the leaders of the countries and not the people that need it.


    February 10, 2011 at 10:58 am

    • This is, by far the best solution I have heard. So simple that even the “simpletons” we have running this county should be able to understand.

      sam ralph

      March 11, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    • 1. Stopping foreign aid wouldn’t barely get us any closer to having no debt.

      2. To literally eliminate all debt would take decades. The US has never been literally debt free (although we have had very low levels of debt). You are just setting an impossible requirement with the intention of ending all foreign aid permanently. I know this may come as a shock to you, but we can multitask. The existence of a more important goal doesn’t mean we have to drop every other goal, no matter what the cost, until the important goal is complete.

      3. Charity does not start at home. Charity starts with humanity. There are millions of children in Africa dying of easily preventable diseases that require little money to treat, just dying because nobody gives a fuck. Well let them die.

      Anthony O'Neal

      March 25, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    • I agree–stop giving away taxpayer’s money to foreign aid, given the tough economic times through which the United States is going. In terms of reducing the budget deficit, this would be a good place to start; stop foreign aid and military aid to wealthy nations like Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. How does this massive, yearly give-away to a brutal, fascist regime, and military dictatorships benefit American taxpayers?
      Instead of layoffs of workers, drastic cuts in public safety, and public health, and giving in to the right wing and “putting entitlements on the table”, let’s roll up our sleeves and work at cutting more obvious and wasteful areas–like stopping foreign aid to the wealthy “allies”. I agree with,”…stop (foreign) aid until we cure our debt problem”. “When our country is free of poverty (and homelessness, and 50 million Americans without health care)”, we can then revisit the notion of resuming humanitarian foreign aid to the poorest of nations. I agree with all who say, either directly or indirectly, “Let’s first take care of our poor and needy, and let’s reduce our budget deficit in ways that do not put our people out of their jobs and out of their homes, or ways that deny them health care”.


      April 11, 2011 at 3:06 pm

  48. your’e not including military aid, Egypt receives 1.2 billion in, military aid. The US in trillions in debt, we cannot afford to keep propping up dictators or paying off countries to support us. We need to keep our money at home. No more foreign and military aid.


    February 2, 2011 at 10:48 pm

  49. The amount of $92 per person annually covers the annual Dept of State budget of approximately $48.5, billion but it completly ignores DoD and other agency budgets that target for foreign assistance.


    January 31, 2011 at 5:36 pm

  50. what ever US has been giving to Egypt and israel and others have created more enemies than friends.
    cut all millitary aids and send some humanitarian help only. cut the abuses and stop the fundamentalist everywhere against US , they have valid reason to be mad at us, doulbe talk, double standard
    Let go with FIX USA FRIST for a change

    ali abtahi

    January 31, 2011 at 12:40 am

  51. I love your heart of compassion .. by the way. We have more in common than my earlier post may imply. I am on the front line rescuing orphans and child soldiers and little girls that get raped by soldiers. It is heartbreaking.

    It is totally unacceptable that there is still so much pain in this world. We ought to be generous givers to those in need.

    Last year I watched a container of food heading for a famine that my organization had raised over $10K to ship (yes $10K from caring U.S. citizens) rot at a country’s border that refused to allow it to cross while their own people were dying of starvation – i realize that the solution is far more that just getting American to pony up more.

    Rob Smith

    January 22, 2011 at 3:07 am

    • Rob – thank you very much, and I am so glad for your work. Thank you for giving yourself to reducing this tragedy’s consequences.
      I agree with your every comment here. Money alone is unlikely to accomplish much. It takes hearts – hearts like yours – who simply can’t live with unacceptable levels of suffering.
      I’d love to hear more of what you do. You could email me at the link on this page, if you’d like more privacy. Or perhaps you could direct me to a web page that describes it. Again, thank you for being there – I think you serve us all when you serve those of us who have been abused, for surely the whole world is better when those whom others have attempted to de-humanize receive healing and hope.


      January 22, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    • maybe we don’t want our taxes stolen from us to pay for charities. If I want to give to a charity I shouldn’t expect US government agents, armed, stealing my money from me, I would rather give if I saw a worthy cause. BTW, I was a child soldier, 16 years old in the UK, no one gave a damn about me. Dont you think that our foreign aid is causing all the worlds problems? Military aid for dictators who spend it on repressing the people, US involvement in Africa, the Middle East. If we stopped giving and making those people dependent on the USA they may gain the strength to take action and over throw their puppet dictators and help themselves. We are only holding them back with our “aid”.


      February 2, 2011 at 10:55 pm

      • Leon, I’ve not had armed federal agents stealing my money.
        Yes, I agree that much foreign aid has been misdirected. Like most things in the American government of recent years, foreign aid has often been controlled by multinational businesses. The result is that much of the aid ends up back in the USA in the pockets of American contractors, and the long-term effect on the everyday lives of ordinary people is minimal. You’re right – we make them dependent on the USA – because American businesses see a money-making opportunity.

        Some aid is slowly changing into small business and small ag support, designed to make individuals self-sufficient. That could have an enormous impact. But I think the World Bank is still in the business of making client states for the USA.


        February 8, 2011 at 3:29 pm

  52. As an immigrant that lives in the US who is deeply involved in philanthropy and social business in the heart of Africa, your article angers me somewhat.

    You praise the US for being the largest single donor in ending smallpox in 1977. However, the silly statistical contortions that you went through to argue how stingy we are as Americans today would also apply to the 1977 funding.

    Be honest with your readers.

    The US as a country is the largest single donor in the world by far. The US is the also largest funder of the United Nations, and in private philanthropy the US exceeds the rest world put together. We give more – BY FAR!

    When I work in Africa I am humbled and proud to see the warm affirmation most Africans give the US for the care they see. Africans know the real numbers – not silly morons who try to belittle the US despite the amazingly compassionate hearts that most American have for the poor.

    We have made mistakes in how we spend the money. But to belittle the US because of misleading calculations is simply not being honest.

    Rob Smith

    January 22, 2011 at 2:47 am

    • Rob – I wouldn’t for a moment argue that the US gives less than other nations, and neither than nor denigration of the USA is my goal. I simply want to show that we often assume our national commitment to helping others is a greater percentage of our budget than it actually is, for this misinformation is often used to encourage Americans to reduce our international commitments.

      Second, while it is true that other nations give less, it is also true that other nations as nations make a larger sacrifice as a percentage of their national budget than do we. Giving to others is a higher priority in the national budgets of some other countries. Again, I think the raw number, when used alone, can be misused to suggest that the American sacrifice is much greater than that of any other nation, and should be cut back. I’d like to see it expand.


      January 22, 2011 at 12:24 pm


    FJ S

    November 6, 2010 at 12:34 pm


    FJ S

    November 6, 2010 at 12:30 pm

  55. One thing missing here, one big thing.

    FOOD AID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Click to access rs21279.pdf

    The United States gives far more food aid than any other country. In fact, it’s about 60% of all food aid on the planet comes from the US alone. European countries don’t come anywhere near that. Even combined, the EU only gives about 25%. They don’t produce as much food, so they give cash instead. That’s why these numbers are so misleading. Keep that in mind the next time you accuse the US of being stingy with aid.

    John Rohan

    October 25, 2010 at 11:45 am

  56. […] federal budget goes to development assistance. In fact, it is less than one percent. That is about 25 cents per day for each American. Furthermore, less than half of aid from the United States goes to the poorest countries; the […]

  57. […] federal budget goes to development assistance. In fact, it is less than one percent. That is about 25 cents per day for each American. Furthermore, less than half of aid from the United States goes to the poorest countries; the […]

  58. Just came across this and wanted to point something out.

    Why do people with the agenda of taking my money and giving it to the poor via govt taxes… always use the Bible as an example?

    Jesus did not teach govt giving. He taught individual giving. He also never took money from the rich to give to the poor nor did He promote stealing it to do so.

    If you want to give more money to poor people… have at it. That’s what Jesus taught. But He did NOT teach you taking my money from me, to give it to poor people so you could feel better about yourself for having helped them.

    Govt giving is the only way most people, (usually liberals) can claim they helped poor people because God knows they don’t give anything on their own big enough to pat themselves on the back for.


    April 7, 2010 at 6:55 am

    • Ed, it would hardly have been profitable for Jesus to tell the Romans to share with the poor. He made it clear, though, in the parable of the sheep and the goats, that he will judge “the nations” on their care for the poor among them, not just individuals.

      God made a government, once, as the Israelites traveled out of Egypt. When they got to the promised land, they were required – by law – to leave the gleanings of their land and the corners of their fields for the poor, whether they liked it or not. They were obliged – by law – not to take a poor man’s coat longer than a day as collateral. They were required – by law – to never charge interest on loans. They were required – by law – to return slaves to freedom and land to its original owners every 50 years. They were required – by law – to provide for widows. The Israelites failed to implement most of these laws, and much of the O.T. is about prophets indicting their government’s failure to enforce the laws of justice for the poor. And on and on and on.

      What you describe is not a Bible view, but radical individualism – and it borders on idolatry.


      April 9, 2010 at 8:58 pm

  59. […] for overestimating our international aid. One study found that the average American estimates that a quarter of the budget — more than Social Security, or Defense — goes to aid abroad. This is why, when asked […]

    • Seems like no one is opposed to the billions we contribute abroad (including to countries who use it to BUY WEAPONS) but when we spend any money to help our own citizens, it is such a bad thing people resort to violence. What’s wrong with that picture? Isn’t the saying – charity begines AT HOME? Why is it we help everyone but ourselves without controversy? We will pay extra taxes to feed and educate the world but not our own.


      March 25, 2010 at 9:15 am

    • Ed? Testing, testing. Ed, are you there? Reply, please?


      February 23, 2011 at 7:33 pm

  60. […] for overestimating our international aid. One study found that the average American estimates that a quarter of the budget — more than Social Security, or Defense — goes to aid abroad. This is why, when asked […]

  61. Thanks for sharing this. Keep up the great work. I love Google.

    descargar antivirus

    February 10, 2010 at 4:54 am

  62. Oops, sorry, those were 1995 numbers (forgot to look at the date on the source), it is actually much higher now.

    DD is correct at 21.2 Billion.

    Shawn P

    December 18, 2009 at 9:45 am

  63. The articles’ numbers are WAY off. The original claim of 25 cents per day per American may be correct, but someone went back in and put in a correction so that it says 25 cents per year per American. That would only be 80-100 million per year, when the actual number is around $13 billion. Some may consider that a pittance considering what we spend on other things, i.e. war, but our monies have done a lot of good, i.e. eradicating small pox in the 70’s.

    Shawn P

    December 18, 2009 at 9:41 am

  64. Josh, I am comparing the USA with other developed nations on a per capita basis. You believe the giving of the USA to be higher than I do. Let’s suppose you’re correct – does that mean the USA alone is higher than these graphs show? Does that mean that other nations do not also participate in a thousand activities that may contribute to development? Of course not. And, by the way, is your criticism of others as having “an agenda” meant to suggest that you don’t?. Yes, as you say, “let’s have a little truth.”

    Seems to me your goal is to prove that the USA is doing better that I have suggested. Fine.

    But is starvation halted? Do mothers dying with AIDS no longer kiss farewell to their babies, wondering who will raise them? And do they not do so solely because they grew up in one place and you and I grew up in another?

    That is injustice. And we who are privileged to live in the richest nation on earth are the ones best positioned to repair the damage. And we could feed the world tomorrow by getting rid of waste in our DOD budget.

    We could, but we will not. As long as people starve and we who could prevent it don’t, there is no escaping the fact that we – regardless what any other nation does – are materialistic and selfish, and can’t be seriously bothered with little things like mothers dying for want of a few dollars of drugs.

    America cares – but not enough to seriously inconvenience itself for the good of those who perish. That is simple, indefensible greed. And we salve our consciences by finding a way to table the numbers so we look good in comparison to others.

    While mothers die. That is America at its ugliest.


    April 18, 2009 at 6:31 pm

  65. As a start read the data available at this website:

    Overall Foreign Aid (still not comprehensive) for 2007 was over $41B. People, if you are going to scribe, let’s have a little truth.

    Josh Becker

    April 17, 2009 at 11:56 am

  66. As many have pointed out (Colin Powell comes to mind) health crises and poverty crises are national security issues.
    For example, nothing quieted Al Qaeda recruitment like US aid after the Pakistan earthquakes.
    Helping others, both together and individually, is the right thing to do. But it also pays huge dividends. Selfishness is a dead end street.
    We’ll be making money again in a year or two. Let’s lead the world to become the kind of place we believe it should be. Generosity is at the top of the list.


    February 24, 2009 at 10:58 pm

  67. my response is:
    These figures do not include charity groups, churches and anonymous donations, etc. Our GOVT should not be helping other govts unless there’s a natural disaster or they are a wartime ally. That’s what i think anyway. Regardless, we can’t donate any money to anyone unless people can make money. Think about it.


    February 24, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    • I have read with interest a number of these articles, and it is clear that they are written with an agenda. The problem is that these private agendas polarize people, and create more problems than they solve. I appreciate that several people, on this blog have tried to provide a more clear picture of U.S. giving, but they do not begin to demonstrate the larger picture of international giving from the U.S., and thus its people. These stories completely leave out “trade agreeemnts”, and other gifting to countries. These agreements are done to stabilize other economies, regimes, and/or provide the ability to maintain independence – or be free countries. These numbers are in the 10’s of billions. Who do you believe is funding these vehicles? It is the same people that you are slamming for not giving enough “aid”, but whether the money is for food and medecine in Darfur, or $2 billion to Russia each year to help its new economy – it is still foereign aid.

      Josh Becker

      April 17, 2009 at 11:31 am

  68. […] the average person how much of our federal budget goes to foreign aid and most will guess 24 percent. It is really less than half of one percent, next to last among […]

  69. Ah, that explains it. These are a diverse set of funds given for many different things, not necessarily for development aid. Just as in the USA, where all sorts of good things are supported by contributions (from public radio to your local symphony orchestra), quite a filter needs to be applied before one can say those that remain are contributions designed to combat poverty.

    Regarding the Biblical principle, seems to me the Bible teaches somewhat more broadly than that: that everyone – individuals as well as societies – should support the poor and needy. “Justice,” in the biblical sense, is not as exclusively focused on punishing crime as our concept is, and it is much more focused on making sure the poor are protected. Nations, both Hebrew and Gentile, as well as individuals, are judged by how well they fulfill this responsibility.


    September 30, 2008 at 7:46 pm

  70. My numbers come from the 2007 Index of Global Philanthropy as cited above. It can be easily found on the web. I don’t believe it includes any in-country programs, but does include foundations, corporations, organizations, universities, religious organizations and individual remittances. Including all of the private contributions as well as government ODA, the report goes on to point out that US total contributions (private and public) is roughly equal to the sum total of all contributions from the other 22 or so industrialized countries.

    The Biblical principle is a simple one….that Christians should support the poor and needy. Rom 15:21; II Cor 8:1-5; Luke 10:33-35; Acts 11:29; James 2:1-5; II Cor 8:8-10; Acts 10:4; I John 3:17-18 and on and on……


    September 30, 2008 at 7:07 pm

  71. Aha – I wrote 25 cents per year instead of per day – that puts us in the same ballpark on the federal part.
    But the jump from the CGD’s $10.6 billion to your $95 billion for private contributions is much harder to explain. I wonder if your number could include in-country programs. Can’t imagine the CGD would be off nine-fold.


    September 30, 2008 at 12:15 am

  72. I’ll look forward to tracking those numbers down.
    Meanwhile, what biblical principal would that be?


    September 29, 2008 at 10:38 pm

  73. ….We give about 25 cents per American per year in foreign aid; with private giving, another dime. It’s a lot, in total, because there are a lot of us. But it’s far behind the level of sacrifice made by people in most developed nations……

    Actually, the OECD reports total US ODA at 21.2 billion for 2007. With a population of around 350 million, that would be around $60.57 per American per year. You only missed it by 24,128%. Further, the ‘index of global philanthropy’ estimates another 95 billion or so from private sources within the US. Combining both, the US stands 7th on a comparable list of wealthy nations. Given the fact that the US has some of the lowest tax rates among the wealthy nations, this is precisely the dynamic that one would expect to see (less from the government, more from the people).

    Sounds a bit like a biblical principal, doesn’t it?


    September 29, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    • Well said. Plus, I believe these foreign aid numbers do not include military assistance and defence spending used to protect foreign populations. I suspect that if these numbers were addeed in we would far exceed all other nations, per capita or otherwise.


      May 31, 2011 at 7:24 pm

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