During his 2008 campaign, President Obama promised to increase foreign aid dramatically, raising the national total to $50 billion. Today, that core message is being rejected by GOP hopeful Rick Perry, who called for a complete elimination of foreign aid, and Mitt Romney, who agreed with Mr. Perry after he made the comments during a recent debate.
With foreign aid in the national spotlight, we take a closer look at how U.S. money is spent abroad and what America gets out of its foreign investments.
Today the United States spends about $25 billion a year on foreign aid, about 50% of which goes to countries that assist in the war on terror and the drug trade including Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Colombia, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan and The Congo.
Critics of foreign aid argue that as America continues to struggle financially, critical resources are sent abroad without a noticeable return on the investment, with some funds even indirectly ending up in the wrong hands.
On the other side, advocates point out that foreign aid makes up only 1% of the United States annual budget and what we get out of that investment is critical to our own national security and economy.
Mr. Perry and Mr. Romney do not necessarily speak for the entire GOP either. Henry Kissinger and Condoleezza Rice, along with three other former Secretaries of State, have signed an appeal of support for foreign aid, calling it "a strategic investment in our nation's security and prosperity".
On Around the World Christiane Amanpour speaks with Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides, who argues that foreign aid protects our nation's security and is a smart investment, returning $5 for every $1 spent.