Freshman Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is becoming an increasingly critical and hawkish voice on the Obama administration's foreign policy, but he is actually a supporter of U.S. foreign assistance programs and made the case for maintaining this funding to his constituents last week.
"We certainly have to be more careful when spending foreign aid.... On the other hand, sometimes in the press and in the minds of many, our foreign aid is exaggerated," Rubio said in an online question and answer session on June 29. "It really is a minuscule part of our overall budget and it's not the reason we have this growing debt in America."
Rubio was responding online to a letter from "Will," a 14-year-old constituent in Palm Bay, who asked the senator to consider the needs of people at home before sending U.S. taxpayer money abroad.
"I think it's crazy that we are spending all this money helping others when we are the ones needing help, wrote Will, "I understand others need help, but we've already done so much that we're hurting ourselves."
"Foreign aid is important. If it's done right, it spreads America's influence around the world in a positive way," Rubio responded.
Rubio praised the Bush administration's effort to provide HIV medicine and relief to Africa as a prime example of a successful foreign aid program. He said the program had not only saved lives but had increased U.S. popularity throughout the continent.
"These are allies that in the future can help us, not just in political struggles but who can be our partners in economic trade," he said. "A world where people are prosperous and free to grow their economies and pursue their own dreams and ambitions is a better world for all of us."
Overall, Rubio may not support the Obama administration's handling of the Libya war, its policy toward Russia and China, or its interactions with international organizations. But when it comes to foreign aid, Rubio and the Obama administration are on the same page.
"The real problem in America's spending is not foreign aid, which is a very small part of our budget," Rubio said.
John Hudson reports on national security and foreign policy from the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom, the White House to Embassy Row, for The Cable.