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Plan Colombia's Problems Symptomatic of Ailing U.S. Foreign Aid Policy, Says Nation's Largest Taxpayer Group
For Immediate Release June 23, 2005
(Washington, DC) -- Despite $4.5 billion in U.S. aid doled out under Plan Colombia since FY 2000, that nation is not any closer to the program's suggested goals of sustainable peace or stability, according to the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU). At a Capitol Hill briefing today the non-partisan citizen group expressed its concern over continuing the aid package and released a separate statement from four fiscal policy organizations calling upon Congress to re-evaluate the plan's funding levels.
"Instead of sending massive amounts of aid to Colombia and other countries, the Bush Administration should continue working with Congress to break down trade barriers between the two nations," said NTU Director of Government Affairs Paul Gessing to briefing attendees.
According to Gessing, although the aid program's objective was to significantly curb Colombian cocaine and heroin production, new data prepared for the Office of National Drug Control Policy indicates that coca production remains "statistically unchanged" and U.S. street prices for cocaine and heroin are at or near all-time lows. In light of a projected $370 billion budget deficit for FY 2006, Gessing told participants that "a serious reassessment of our overall spending priorities is in order for even the most effective programs. Unfortunately, by all measurable criteria, Plan Colombia's effectiveness is dubious."
NTU also sent a joint letter to lawmakers today noting that the Administration's $720 million FY 2006 combined aid request for Colombia "is a logical place to begin the return to a more fiscally prudent path.... [W]e believe that Congress should dramatically reduce or even eliminate Colombia spending in the FY 2006 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill." In addition to NTU, signatories consisted of Americans for Prosperity, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, and Taxpayers for Common Sense Action.
NTU has long held that reducing trade barriers and reforming outdated tax and property rights systems are more effective solutions to the problems foreign aid seeks to address. To this effect, NTU is an active member of the World Taxpayers Associations, whose mission is to work toward lower taxes, more individual freedom, and expanding the taxpayers' movement to other countries.
"Subsidizing foreign governments -- no matter how pro-American they may be -- will undoubtedly fail as a means of spreading freedom and prosperity worldwide," Gessing concluded in his presentation at the event.
NTU is a non-profit, non-partisan citizen group founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes, smaller government, and more accountability from elected officials. Note: The text of the coalition letter and other materials concerning free trade and foreign aid issues are available online at www.ntu.org.