Promoting freedom, innovation, and growth

Connect with IPI

Receive news, research, and updates

August 12, 2014

The U.S. Doles Out Financial Aid to 96 Percent of All Countries


Given all the international turmoil, it might be worth revisiting how much U.S. taxpayers give other countries in foreign aid and military assistance.
According to the federal government, for fiscal year 2012, “The United States remained the world's largest bilateral donor, obligating approximately $48.4 billion—$31.2 billion in economic assistance and $17.2 billion in military assistance.”
However, “obligated” funds are not the same as “dispersed.”  The U.S. only disbursed $33.2 billion—$19 billion in economic assistance to 184 countries and $14.2 billion in military assistance to 142 countries.   
Afghanistan was by far the largest recipient, $12.9 billion obligated ($9.9 disbursed) in military and economic assistance. Israel was next with only a quarter, $3.1 billion, of Afghanistan’s obligated funds.  All of Israel’s allotment was for military assistance.
Third was Iraq, with $1.9 billion, then Egypt with $1.4 billion, Pakistan got $1.2 billion and Jordan was promised $1.1 billion.
Thus, out of the top six U.S. foreign aid recipients, five of them were Muslim countries. And yet it seems the U.S. can’t buy good press in the Middle East.
Another issue: The United Nations boasts 193 members, and the U.S. provided economic assistance to 184 of them, or 96 percent of the countries in the world.  To be sure, the amount of assistance drops significantly after the top 10 countries or so, but still …
And a third issue: When you look at the government’s list of countries that receive U.S. taxpayer assistance you find Russia, Venezuela, Gaza (which isn’t actually a country), Zimbabwe, Cuba and even the People’s Republic of China.
Of course, State Department officials might claim that some of that money is to help the poor. But China has the second largest economy in the world—and is a major buyer of U.S. debt. So we borrow money from China in order to give them financial assistance?  Just sayin!
As the presidential election kicks into gear next year it’s worth pushing the candidates to address the U.S.’s role in providing financial aid. Those candidates who promise a reevaluation and scaling back might find a very supportive American public.


  • TaxBytes-New

Copyright Institute for Policy Innovation 2018. All Rights Reserved Privacy Policy Contact IPI.

e-resources e-resources