DES MOINES, Iowa — The midterm elections this year are extremely important to United States foreign aid, as the international aid budget, 1 percent of the national budget, hangs in the balance.
These elections will decide the majority party in the House and the Senate. While the House is predicted to remain Republican dominated, the Senate majority party will be decided this year. Currently, the Senate is split between 53 Democratic seats and 45 Republican seats.
Five states, North Carolina, Louisiana, Alaska, Arkansas and Iowa, have been identified as toss-up states, the elections could result in either a Republican or Democratic senator. With such tight senate races, it is important to be aware of their foreign policy in order to identify a candidate to support and the importance of foreign aid and reducing global poverty for their policy goals.
In the Iowa senate race, Tom Harkin, a five-term, Democratic senator, will step down at the end of his term. This leaves an open race for US Senate and an extremely competitive election. Following the primaries, there are two candidates in the field: Joni Ernst, Republican and Bruce Braley, Democrat. NBC News/ Marist polling reveals that 43 percent of voters plan to vote for each candidate. 14 percent are undecided.
Joni Ernst (R)
A native of Iowa, Joni Ernst served as a Lt. Col. in Iowa’s National Guard and as the Montgomery County Auditor before running for the US Senate.
On her campaign website, one of Ernst’s primary concerns is job creation. She “supports pro-growth tax and economic policies that will unleash the full potential of America’s free market economy.” One such economic policy that would provide job creation is aid to developing countries.
The middle class is rapidly expanding in developing countries, and the United States can add to and profit from this growth through foreign aid. Granting aid in the form of infrastructure development, healthcare, and education allow citizens greater access to jobs. This then can allow the possibility for excess income to spend on goods and services. Granting aid will both reduce global poverty and increase the number of consumers of US goods. In turn, companies can increase their size and hire more Americans.
Moreover, Ernst promotes aid for Israel. In her White Paper: The US-Israeli Partnership, she supports aid because it will strengthen a strategic relationship for the United States and the “extension of mutually beneficial and growing trade relationship.” She extends her support for aid to Egypt as well.
This same theory extends to other countries in the developing world. Like job creation, aid offers many benefits and potential trade relationships with developing countries, whose economies are amongst the most rapidly growing in the world.
Strategic relationships enhance national security by reducing global poverty and forging an alliance between the US and another nation. Ernst’s stance evidences the importance of foreign aid to her foreign policy goals.
Bruce Braley (D)
Also a native of Iowa, Bruce Braley currently serves as a representative for the 1st Congressional District. Braley began his role in the House of Representatives in 2007.
In 2009, Braley voted for the Pakistan Enduring Assistance and Cooperation Enhancement (PEACE) Act. Though it did not pass the Senate, the PEACE Act would have provided aid to Pakistan. The aid would’ve included creating democratic and judicial institutions, improving public education and healthcare and promoting economic improvement and human rights. These programs could have reduced global poverty in Pakistan by increasing access to such programs.
In terms of climate change, Braley believes that businesses should increase energy efficiency and invest in new methods of producing energy in order to reduce carbon emissions. Climate change and global poverty are closely related. The Guardian argues that climate change disproportionately affects impoverished populations. It can inhibit countries from reducing poverty, as affects of climate change often reduce work efficiency and increase conflict.
By increasing energy efficiency and reducing the affects of climate change in the United States and abroad, the United States works to reduce global poverty, which also strengthens the US economy.
Braley encourages the growth of small businesses. He introduced the Support Our Startups Act, which would encourage starting a business through tax deductions on start up expenses. As with Ernst’s goal to create jobs, aiding developing nations results in a greater number of consumers. This can allow for greater opportunities to enter the market and create a business in the Untied States to meet a certain demand.
– Tara Wilson
Sources: Tom Harkin, United States Congressman Bruce Braley, Politico 1, Politico 2, Joni Ernst for U.S. Senate, GovTrack, The Guardian