Legislative and policy-related news from D.C., Olympia, and our members
Welcome to the Global Washington Policy Update. Each month we post updates about our policy work, national global development policy news, our blog and legislative index.
Featured Policy News
Coldplay and food aid
Guest article by Jonathan Scanlon, Oxfam America
You might read the title and think, “What, is he crazy? What does a popular band have to do with global hunger?”
Ok, here goes.
For more than a decade, the best selling British band Coldplay has been one of Oxfam’s biggest supporters. With an interest in using their global celebrity for good, Coldplay teamed up with Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair campaign beginning in 2002 to advocate for the end of the rigged rules and double standards of the global trading system. Band members delivered petitions to trade ministers meeting in Mexico in 2003, met with farmers from developing countries to learn more, and spoke out at their concerts around the world.
So what are they up to now?
Coldplay has continued to have an Oxfam presence on their tours and we’re back at it again this year. The U.S. leg of their upcoming tour starts in Portland on April 24 and then comes to KeyArena in Seattle on April 25 and we’ll be there. Want to join us?
We won’t be there to ask for your money, we’re there to ask for your voice.
This year Coldplay is teaming up with Oxfam to support our GROW campaign. We launched the GROW campaign last year with the goal of building a better food system: one that sustainably feeds a growing population (estimated to reach nine billion by 2050) and empowers poor people to earn a living, feed their families, and thrive.
We are advocating for better policies that support the efforts of small farmers in developing countries. We have an opportunity this spring to make changes to U.S. government policy through the Farm Bill – the legislation that governs America’s domestic and foreign agriculture policy. Through our joint researchwith American Jewish World Service, we found that up to 17 million people could receive life-saving food aid at no additional cost to U.S. taxpayers if Congress cuts red-tape in the U.S. Farm Bill.
Right now, more than 50 percent of the aid money the government spends on basic food grains is wasted. Instead of being used to fight hunger, these funds get caught up in overhead costs and fees, from paying for the high-priced food aid agencies are forced to buy, even if there are cheaper local alternatives available, to covering the exorbitant shipping charges of delivering aid on a limited number of expensive U.S. vessels.
This wasteful government system not only costs taxpayers dollars – it can also create delays of up to four or six months before aid arrives. For a community facing food shortages, such as those facing a pending crisis in the Sahel or those affected by last year’s drought in the Horn of Africa, those months can be the difference between life and death.
We can change this system for the better this year. Congress is currently debating the Farm Bill and Oxfam is gathering petitions across the country. We’ll be out at the Coldplay show to get more people to sign on. In Coldplay’s hit 2002 song “Clocks,” Chris Martin asks, “Am I a part of the cure or am I a part of the disease?” It’s time to rally around a cure for fixing our food aid system.Join us April 25 at KeyArena to spread the word. (Did I forget to mention that you’ll also get to see the show for free?!?)
Jonathan Scanlon is based in Seattle and is Lead Organizer, Economic Justice at the international relief and development organization Oxfam America, a new member of Global Washington.
President Obama Nominates Jim Yong Kim of Partners in Health to be World Bank President
The World Bank is the world’s go-to place for international development research, expertise, funding, and policy advice. In 2010, the World Bank had $120 billion in outstanding loans, $283 billion in total assets, and a further $113 billion in outstanding development credits (the State Department-USAID foreign operations budget, by comparison, was $33 billion in 2011). The Bank’s priorities and mission are changing. India, the recipient of one-fifth of funds from the Bank’s soft loan window,is about to graduate to middle-income status. The World Bank will lose many of its clients, including Vietnam, Ghana, and Nigeria, to similar gains. Todd Moss says that the next World Bank president must explain how it will stay relevant to newly-graduated clients and work more effectively in the low-income clients where it has had the least success.
On March 23, President Obama nominated Jim Yong Kim, the co-founder of Partners in Health and the president of Dartmouth College, to be the next president of the World Bank. For the first time, the World Bank’s board of electors has nominated two non-American candidates: Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and former Colombian Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo. The board will elect a president sometime before April 21, 2012. The Obama Administration originally planned to nominate Partners in Health co-founder Paul Farmer to be USAID chief. The nominee vetting process, which Secretary Clinton called “a nightmare” that is “frustrating beyond words,” led Farmer to withdraw from consideration in mid-2009 and left USAID without a chief administrator during the first year of Obama’s presidency. Mr. Kim would bring a Partners in Health-influenced approach to another powerful office in the field of global development.
Throughout his career, Kim has demonstrated that patients who are written off as untreatable can be successfully cared for – even in the poorest settings. When he was five, Kim’s family moved from South Korea to Iowa. He specialized in infectious diseases at Harvard Medical School, where he founded Partners in Health (PIH) with Paul Farmer and three other young doctors in 1987. As Tracy Kidder chronicles in Mountains Beyond Mountains, PIH achieved tremendous breakthroughs in rural Haiti’s public health outcomes by training local health workers to visit homes and ensure that patients followed their drug regimens. In the 1990s, Kim pioneered a new model for treating drug-resistant tuberculosis in the slums of Peru. He won over the global health establishment, which scorned his “Robin Hood attitude” towards TB treatment at first, by bargaining down drug costs, preventing new drug-resistant strains from emerging, and achieving better cure rates than most Western hospitals – all in one of the world’s most challenging public health environments. Kim’s successes prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to embrace community-based care and aggressive treatment of drug-resistant TB. From 2002 to 2007, Kim led theWHO’s successful “3 by 5” initiative to treat 3 million new HIV/AIDS cases. He founded Harvard’s Global Health Delivery Project in 2007 and became the president of Dartmouth College in 2009.
Kim’s nomination has generated both praise and controversy. As Felix Salmon puts it, “Everybody who has heard of Kim seems to think that the choice is a wonderful and inspired one.” Vijaya Ramachandran argues that Kim could transform the World Bank’s project evaluation methodology by making randomized controlled testing (RCT) a standard procedure. Nobel laureate and former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that the nominee must have “a distinguished record as an economic policymaker, outstanding professional background, familiarity with banking and finance, diplomatic and managerial skills, [and] solid knowledge and experience of development policy.” Kim, for all his accomplishments, lacks experience in finance, economics, diplomacy, or congressional relations. Many observers dislike how Kim’s nomination upholds the long-standing “gentleman’s agreement” that guarantees a European head of the IMF and an American head of the World Bank. Felix Salmon and The Economist, among others, have argued that Okonjo-Iweala’s credentials make her the best person for the job. In the Financial Times, Kevin P. Gallagher argues that Ocampo’sexperience and credentials ought to give him the edge. Despite these differences, the World Bank’s members will need to come together after the election and create a bold new plan to transform the institution into one that fits the requirements of international development in the 21st century.
By Sean O’Keefe
New Legislation & Major Action
February 2012 – March 2012
H.R. 3976 provides U.S. small businesses with an export expansion credit of 25% of export expansion expenses. It directs the Office of International Trade to advertise U.S. small businesses abroad and to write an annual document with the tariff schedules of all foreign countries and information about the demand for goods and services in the top 50 countries in terms of the value of the U.S. goods and services exported to them. It also directs the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation to raise the percentage of their investments in U.S. small businesses.
Introduced and referred to the House Committees on Ways and Means, Small Business, Financial Services, and Foreign Affairs on February 8, 2011. Referred to the House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade on February 23, 2011. No co-sponsors.
H.R 4221 was introduced and referred to the House Committees on Ways and Means, Small Business, Financial Services, and Foreign Affairs on March 20, 2012 (2 co-sponsors, including Rep. Jim McDermott [WA-07]). S. 2215 was introduced and referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 23, 2012 (3 co-sponsors).
H.R. 4141 directs the Administrator of USAID to take appropriate actions to improve the nutritional quality, quality control, and cost effectiveness of United States food assistance, and for other purposes.
Introduced and referred to the House Foreign Affairs and Agriculture Committees on March 5, 2012. Ordered to be reported (a.k.a. amended) by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on March 27, 2012. 15 co-sponsors.
H.R. 583: Expressing support for robust efforts by the United States to see Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, and his top commanders brought to justice and the group’s atrocities permanently ended.
Contributors: Sean O’Keefe, Jonathan Scanlon
Edited by: Megan Boucher