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Although President Obama will be plenty busy during the remainder of his first term working with Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff, he need not wait until the start of his second term to further his vision for making US policy more supportive of global poverty reduction.
The U.S. Congress launched a new bipartisan Caucus for Congressional-World Bank Dialogue at a packed event on Capitol Hill July 16. The caucus, co-chaired by Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Betty McCollum (D-MN), provides a forum for members of Congress to engage the World Bank, parliamentarians and policy experts on poverty reduction, global development and trade.
CGD President Nancy Birdsall praised the intent of new legislation (S. 2166) to expand debt relief to additional poor countries, but cautioned against the bill in its current form last week at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. She urged the U.S.
Rep. Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, opened the first of a series of hearings on foreign assistance reform with a bold statement last Wednesday calling for major overhaul of the system. Says Berman:
It is painfully obvious to Congress, the Administration, foreign aid experts, and NGOs alike, that our foreign assistance program is fragmented and broken and in critical need of overhaul.
A Washington Post editorial today ( A Fight Over Corruption ) says that the new report by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker on the effectiveness of the World Bank's anti-corruption department, (the Institutional Integrity Department or INT)) "reserved its toughest language for the bank bureaucracy itself." The editorial then quotes from the report:
Today the Volcker Commission released a report with a set of recommendations about how the World Bank can strengthen its anti-corruption procedures by reforming its Department of Institutional Integrity. This is an important and timely conversation and the report will no doubt receive a high level of attention. But it is equally important that the Bank does not put corruption ahead of its central task—the alleviation of poverty.
Arvind Subramanian's op-ed in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, A Farewell to Alms has reignited a long-running debate about whether foreign aid works—a debate that NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof tried to put to rest recently in an elegant defense (subscription required) of some aid for some purposes.
At the first joint public appearance of the U.S. foreign assistance triumvirate this week, Henrietta Fore, acting director of foreign assistance and acting administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, John Danilovich, CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and Mark Dybul, U.S. global AIDS coordinator, argued U.S.
Yesterday Robert Zoellick was elected by unanimous vote by the Board of the World Bank to become its next president. He now assumes The Hardest Job in the World, as we called it in a 2005 CGD report to the then-incoming president, Paul Wolfowitz. Mr. Zoellick is an avid reader -- and absorbs ideas and issues like a sponge. This bodes well for the Bank and for Bank staff. Informal meetings he has had with officials around the world, activists, and Bank watchers in Washington's leading think tanks indicate Mr.
The British Conservative party issued a statement today aimed at the upcoming G-8 summit and citing CGD's Commitment to Development Index (CDI). (Coverage in the Guardian is here.) The CDI rates 21 rich countries on how much their foreign aid, trade, and other policies help or hurt people in the developing world.