Friday, March 3, 2017

Smarter than a congressman? Test yourself on foreign aid -- March 9, 2017 column


President Donald Trump’s budget for the fiscal year that begins in October likely will include a $54 billion hike in defense spending and drastic cuts in the State Department and foreign aid to pay for it.

But it’s far from a sure thing. The president’s budget is a proposal or starting point. Congress has the final word and will begin work on the budget later this month.

Americans believe we spend too much on foreign aid, polls show, although people have misconceptions about what’s called “soft power” – humanitarian relief, economic development and anti-poverty programs, among others.

Think you know foreign aid? Before the debate begins, test your smarts with our 10-question quiz. Answers are below. Good luck! 

1)    How much of the federal budget goes to foreign aid?
A.   31 percent
B.   26 percent
C.   15 percent
D.   1 percent

2)    Roughly how much will the United States spend this year on foreign assistance?
A.   $100.5 billion
B.   $75 billion
C.   $36.5 billion
D.   $20 million

3)    How many countries around the world receive U.S. foreign aid?
A.   50
B.   75
C.   More than 100
D.   More than 200

4)    Which country receives the most foreign assistance from the United States?
A.   Iraq
B.   Afghanistan
C.   Egypt
D.   Israel

5)    The United States provides more foreign aid than any other nation. How much of the world’s development assistance comes from the United States?
A.   24 percent
B.   30 percent
C.   50 percent
D.   65 percent

6)    The United States hasn’t always been the No. 1 donor. Which country provided more foreign aid between the years of 1989 and 2001?
A.   United Arab Emirates
B.   Japan
C.   Saudi Arabia
D.   Qatar

7)    Where does the money go? Pick the largest program category.  
A.   Peace and security  
B.   Humanitarian assistance   
C.   Health
D.   Economic development

8)    Where else? Which of these smaller categories distributes the most money?
A.   Environment  
B.   Education and social services
C.   Democracy, human rights and governance

9)    The State Department and USAID are two of the federal agencies involved in foreign aid. How many agencies in total provide foreign assistance?
A.   10  
B.   20
C.   25

10)           Name that tweeter: “Foreign aid is not charity. We must make sure it is well spent, but it is less than 1% of budget & critical to our national security.”
A.   Hillary Clinton
B.   Marco Rubio
C.   Barack Obama
D.   Mitt Romney

1       1)    D.  Foreign assistance was 1.3 percent of federal budget authority in fiscal 2015, the Congressional Research Service reported in June. Americans’ average guess is 31 percent, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll found last year. Only about three people in 100 knew foreign aid is about 1 percent.
2      2)    C. Tallies vary from $31.3 billion to $39.9 billion, depending on the kinds of assistance included and how the calculations are made, according to PolitiFact. The $36.5 billion figure comes from, a federal site that collects data from federal agencies involved in foreign aid.
3     3)    C. Source:
4     4)    D. Israel -- $3.1 billion this year, increasing to $3.8 billion after 2017, followed by Egypt, Afghanistan and Iraq. (
5     5)    A. 24 percent in 2014 (Congressional Research Service)
6     6)    B. Japan took the lead when foreign aid spending by the United States declined after the Cold War ended. United States spending rose after 9/11, surpassing Japan. (Congressional Research Service)
7     7)    C. Health at $9.3 billion in 2017, followed by Peace and Security at $8.3 billion, Humanitarian Assistance at $6.0 billion, and Economic Development at $3.7 billion (
8     8)    C. Democracy at $2.7 billion, followed by Environment at $1.3 billion and Education at $1.1 billion (
9     9)    B. These include the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury as well as such independent agencies as the Peace Corps and Millenium Challenge Corporation.
1     10)                       B. Sen. Rubio of Florida on Feb. 28, 2017.
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