So Much for the "Commitment in [His] Soul"

Thursday, March 16, 2006

So Much for the "Commitment in [His] Soul"

Remember the "Milennium Challenge" program that President Bush announced in March 2002? That's okay because I had a tough time remembering it too. Rolling Stone magazine checked up on the program's progress and offered this assessment:
Under his watch, the president said, America would increase its annual foreign aid to $5 billion. And instead of giving handouts, he added, the program would employ an entirely new model: investing in countries to spark their economic growth and holding them accountable for their policies.

"I carry this commitment in my soul," Bush said, concluding his speech with a trademark religious touch.

... Over the past three months, Rolling Stone has reviewed the MCC's "compacts" with foreign countries, compared the work of similar agencies and spoken with a wide range of supporters and critics -- including many of the conservative insiders responsible for creating the program.

Instead of hiring aid experts, the administration at first staffed the MCC with conservative ideologues. Rather than partnering with other countries, the White House operated on its own, disconnected from the rest of the world.

... Today, four years after the president announced his initiative, the MCC has signed compacts with six countries -- offering only $1.2 billion in assistance.

In February, Bush released a budget for 2007 that falls another $2 billion short of his pledge, bringing the total aid to less than half of what he promised. And the new budget once again pushes back the goal, stating that the administration "expects" to provide $5 billion annually in 2008.

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