4:46 March 16, 20174:28 PM ET
Heard on All Things Considered
NPR’s Robert Siegel talks to Andrew Natsios, the former head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, about the Trump administration’s proposal to cut the State Department’s budget by 29 percent.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
The proposed cuts to the State Department, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, amount to a 29 percent hit, second only to the EPA. Andrew Natsios headed USAID in the Bush administration. He was also one of the Republicans who signed a letter against Donald Trump last year, and he joins us now. Welcome to the program.
ANDREW NATSIOS: How are you today?
SIEGEL: Fine. Would the budget proposal with this big cut for State and USAID qualitatively change the way those agencies work?
NATSIOS: That’s an understatement. It essentially moves back to an earlier period even before the Cold War started. Although the Marshall Plan, which was the beginning of our foreign aid program, was enormous and saved Europe from Stalin, there are three great periods of increases. One was under Harry Truman, another under Jack Kennedy. And then George W. Bush actually increased foreign aid more than any other president since Jack Kennedy. So in many respects, these cuts are an attack on Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush because they were among the leading increasers of foreign aid among all presidents.
SIEGEL: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said, though, that the State Department budget these days is historically high because of the conflicts the U.S. has been in. He sort of describes a demobilization of a wartime State Department. Does he have a point?