Thursday, December 06, 2007


Another project born from Bush's mythical compassionate conservatism is struggling:

The Millennium Challenge Corporation, a federal agency set up almost four years ago to reinvent foreign aid, has taken far longer to help poor, well-governed countries than its supporters expected or its critics say is reasonable.

The agency, a rare Bush administration proposal to be enacted with bipartisan support, has spent only $155 million of the $4.8 billion it has approved for ambitious projects in 15 countries in Africa, Central America and other regions.

Since the project has been so slow to get off the ground, the Senate is having second thoughts about approving funds that have already been promised to poor countries to encourage them to reform stagnant and corrupt oligarchic economies (qualifier: more stagnant, corrupt, and oligarchic than our own). It’s all about incentives, you see.

“Do we cut maternal health?” [Senator Leahy] asked. “AIDS? Malaria? Do we cut refugees? The only thing that’s got a blank check is the war in Iraq.”

One might almost draw the conclusion that the announcement of the formation of the MCC a few years ago with great fanfare and bipartisan acclaim was geared more towards eliciting great fanfare and bipartisan acclaim than improving the effectiveness of foreign aid.

But that’s silly, because Bush’s faith tells him to give to the poor, and he is a faithful man.

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