This is a joint post with John Norris of the Center for American Progress.
Budget concerns will almost certainly put downward pressure on federal spending across a host of government programs for a number of years. Although some think it is almost heretical to point out the obvious, the international affairs budget will not be immune from this dynamic. In fact, international spending could take a disproportionate hit compared to domestic spending – despite the fact that discretionary international spending is a very small part of the overall budget puzzle.
International affairs, and more specifically foreign assistance, have rarely been popular budget items among the public or on Capitol Hill – despite consistently comprising only about 1 percent of the total federal budget. Even so, foreign aid and international engagement make good political targets for elected officials out on the stump. It is far easier to demonize foreign aid than to explain how relatively modest programs to improve living standards in the developing world have consistently proven to be in the national interest over the long-term.