Take a guess: What percentage of the U.S. budget is spent on foreign aid?

     Ten percent? Twenty? Thirty?

     No way, Rick Scott told Riponites.

     The 1970 Ripon College graduate informed an audience at his alma mater last week that foreign aid comprises “less than 1 percent of the national budget,” despite a common misconception that it accounts for much more of federal spending.

     Ripon College professor Henrik Schatzinger asked Scott how agencies like the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) could educate citizens in the actual costs of foreign aid as well as the economic gains of investing in other countries and opening more markets to Americans.

     “USAID has a very robust public-outreach function, but I think we are precluded by law to advertise and talk about what we do in the United States,” replied Scott, who worked for USAID for more than two decades.

     He told the audience that citizens’ word of mouth, public engagement and contacting members of Congress could help spread a more accurate picture of foreign aid costs and protect it from budget cuts.

     “Cutting foreign aid, as some would like to do, would have a negligible impact on the U.S. budget and would decrease our ability to help those in need and, very importantly, decrease our positive influence around the world,” Scott said earlier in his presentation.

     Other countries engaged with the United States “do take us seriously” and “do want our perspective,” Scott stated,  even when they disagree with U.S. policy.

     He also paraphrased an oft-repeated observation of Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis: “Fewer dollars for diplomacy and development means that he has to buy more guns and ammunition.” ...

     To read the entire story, see the Dec. 7, 2017 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.