Wall Street Journal Examines Bush’s Funding ‘Shortfalls’ for Global AIDS, Development Initiatives
The Wall Street Journal on Thursday examined how President Bush is "falling further and further behind" on pledges to increase funding for HIV/AIDS and poverty initiatives worldwide, creating "shortfalls" that are "raising alarm" among some health and development advocates. Although Bush in 2003 announced that he would increase funding for global HIV/AIDS programs by $10 billion over the following five years, U.S. funding has increased by only $2 billion during fiscal years 2004 and 2005, according to the Journal. In addition, even though Bush has proposed an additional increase of $1.6 billion in funding for FY 2006, that still leaves a "dauntingly large" $6.4 billion to "extract" from Congress over the next two years in order to meet Bush's initial pledge, the Journal reports. Bush also has "quietly notified" the Millennium Challenge Corporation -- a newly established agency created to administer funding for the Millennium Challenge Account -- that his proposed FY 2006 budget likely will include "billions" less than he pledged for the initiative during his first term, according to the Journal. If Congress approves Bush's funding request for MCC, it will leave the agency with a $4.5 billion shortfall in what the administration promised to provide over its initial three years, the Journal reports.
"From what we hear, the president appears to be stepping back from his promise to fully fund" the Millennium Challenge initiative, InterAction President Mary McClymont said, adding that while her group "appreciate[s]" Bush's proposed increase for FY 2006 HIV/AIDS spending, "it, too, falls far short of the U.S. share of the global need." DATA spokesperson Seth Amgott said, "The president committed to requesting $5 billion for next year to help the poorest people in the world send their children to school and get clean water into their villages. We have a hard time believing that United States would fail to keep this commitment, and we expect the administration to keep its promise in the budget request for next year." Irish rock star and DATA co-founder Bono released a statement calling the proposed FY 2006 budget "inconceivable," and the group intends to run radio and newspaper advertisements next week to "pressure" the administration into meeting Bush's funding pledges, the Journal reports. However, according to White House Office of Management and Budget spokesperson Chad Kolton, the administration "obviously ... is still committed to the Millennium Challenge Account as a significant part of our foreign policy and our assistance to other countries." Mark Dybul, deputy chief of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, said that the proposed budget figures are "dead on target for the original plan to scale up integrated prevention, care and treatment and to also scale up the budget as capacity is built." A MCC spokesperson declined to comment on Bush's proposed budget, according to the Journal (Phillips, Wall Street Journal, 1/27).