LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Congress plays a major role in deciding the national budget for the next fiscal year. Currently, 1 percent of the national budget goes toward international aid, yet 61 percent of Americans believe that ending world hunger should be a focus of U.S. foreign policy.
Midterm elections in November will decide the layout of the House of Representative and Senate for the next few years. For the U.S. Senate, these elections are extremely important in determining whether the Senate will be Republican or Democratically led. The senatorial elections in five states, North Carolina, Louisiana, Alaska, Arkansas and Iowa, are currently tied in the polls, making them extremely important this electoral season.
The layout of the U.S. Senate may decide the budget, so it is important to determine how or why reducing global poverty and investing in international aid is related to the goals of each of the candidates.
Tom Cotton, a Republican, is running against Mark Pryor, the incumbent and a Democrat. The Impact Management Group polls state that Tom Cotton holds 47 percent of the votes. Mark Pryor holds 43 percent of the votes, and 10 percent of the electorate are undecided.
Mark Pryor (D)
Mark Pryor is the incumbent senator. Before his two terms in senate, Pryor was a representative at the state level and the attorney general for Arkansas.
Pryor co-sponsored the Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act, S.1431. This act would extend the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which prevents some taxation of the Internet. Preventing taxation of the Internet promotes greater access to the Internet, no matter financial status. According to the Act, “Keeping Internet access affordable promotes consumer access to this critical gateway to jobs, education, healthcare, and entrepreneurial opportunities, regardless of race, income or neighborhood.”
The importance of free and unlimited access to the Internet extends to combatting poverty or socioeconomic limitation across the globe. The United Nations considers the Internet an important factor in completing the Millennium Development Goals.
Pryor’s campaign website states that the United States’ “security is the number one priority for Mark.” Reducing global poverty is key to increasing national security. International development and investment increases the likelihood of a nation’s financial security, which potentially decreases levels of violence in a country.
Poor countries offer a haven for extremism, which can lead to terrorism. For instance, during a time of high poverty rates in Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda was formed. In order to increase national security, Pryor will also need to make global poverty a major policy priority.
Tom Cotton (R)
Tom Cotton currently represents the Fourth Congressional District of Arkansas. He is a member of the House Financial Services Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee. Previously, he served in the U.S. Army as an infantry officer in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Cotton is well versed in American military power. Like Pryor, he focuses on national security. For Cotton, the focus of national security lies in reducing terrorism, and he approves the use of military power to do so.
As mentioned before, reducing global poverty also enhances U.S. national security. According to the Washington Post, Cotton stated that he is “not opposed to ‘soft power’ by any means.” Soft power refers to international influence through economic influence, without the use of military. He does not believe in cutting foreign aid, if it improves U.S. interests.
Foreign aid to reduce global poverty does improve U.S. interests outside national security. On his website, Cotton argues, “What government can and should do is ensure a free-market, job-friendly environment where businesses and entrepreneurs have the certainty and incentives to invest, innovate, grow, and hire.”
Reducing global poverty increases the number of consumers of American products abroad. This increases the opportunity for business growth, which could lead to increases in employment of U.S. citizens, and investments in the rapidly growing economies of developing countries.
– Tara Wilson
Sources: Borgen Project 1, Borgen Project 2 Politico, Congress 1, Congress 2, United Nations, Mark Pryor Campaign, Washington Post, House of Representatives
Photo: The Huffington Post