Obama 2012 budget has rise in US aid to Israel

Foreign aid is an easy target for Republicans who seem to be competing to see who can cut the budget the most.

US President Barack Obama's budget proposal for fiscal year 2012 (which begins on October 1, 2011) keeps foreign aid for Israel, Egypt, and most other recipients unchanged, but it is not clear what the House of Representatives and the Senate will leave in.

The budget proposes $3.075 billion in US military aid for Israel, $75 million more than in fiscal year 2011. The aid proposal is based on the US-Israeli understandings signed on August 16, 2007. US military aid is set to increase by a further $25 million to $3.1 billion in fiscal year 2013, and remain at that level through 2018, assuming that the US foreign aid program remains as is. Israel is also due to receive $20 million in aid for integrating refugees.

The joint US-Israel missile defense programs, including the Arrow and David's Sling are slated to receive $106.1 million in 2012. Congress normally increases this aid by tens of millions of dollars over the administration's request, but it is not certain that this will happen this year.

Egypt is due to receive $1.3 billion in military aid and $250 million in economic aid, which is slated for human rights programs and to meet the needs of "ordinary citizens". The Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are budgeted $400.4 million, Jordan is budgeted to receive $300 million in military aid and $360 million in economic aid, Lebanon is budgeted to receive $100 million in military aid and $100 million in civilian aid (subject to approval by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in anticipation of political agitation by Hizbullah when the International Court releases its findings into the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.)

There is no certainty that Congress will approve the Obama administration's foreign aid package. An aide on Capitol Hill told "Globes", "Budget proposals by the administration, by their nature, are only drafts. It has always been that way, but in the era of the Tea Party, this is truer than ever."

The two most frequent remarks by Republican congressmen yesterday were, "Obama's budget proposal is dead on arrival," and "The President's budget proposal is only a wish list, which will never be granted." "The Los Angeles Times" put it, "Make no mistake, Congress will not pass this budget."

Although these remarks do not specifically target foreign aid, foreign aid is the easiest target for Republicans, and some Democrats, who seemingly are competing to see who can cut the budget the most. A survey by Pew Research found that 45% of the US public support only cutting foreign aid, while very few support cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or the budget's other largest items.

New Senator Rand Paul (Republican-Kentucky), a Tea Party stalwart, is heading the party's budget cutting campaign. He has not yet found a program he does not want to cut. Even as the Republican Congressional leadership seeks to cut the federal budget by $100 million, Paul is calling for a $500 million budget cut. He seems to specifically target aid for Israel, possibly because it garners him headlines and airtime.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 15, 2011

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2011

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