CGD Policy Blogs

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Refusing Visas, Refusing Income?

In 2015, there were 77,470,857 visits to the United States from other countries. These visitors brought tremendous benefit: not only did they each spend an average of $4,400 on US goods and services during their stay, but also they helped US firms engage with foreign markets, raise the quality of students here, and help with the diffusion of knowledge. We should want more of these tourists and businesspeople, and the above suggests a real cost to inaccurate visa screening mechanisms—of which blanket bans are a prime example.

A Key Question If You Are Reviewing Multilateral Organization Effectiveness: Do We Need a Multilateral Solution?

There’s increasing appetite in the US to follow the UK model and launch a review of US spending through international organizations like the United Nations and the World Bank. There is a lot to be said for such an exercise—my colleague Todd Moss even carried out a mock version for the US a few years ago which suggested plaudits for Gavi and the African Development Fund alongside brickbats for the ILO and UNESCO. But I think the model has a serious weakness if it is going to be applied as broadly in the US as some proposals, including a draft executive order making the rounds, imply. I’d argue for (preferably) limiting the review to like-to-like comparisons covering aid and development institutions or (at least) using different criteria for judging the many different types of international organizations.

She Decides, But Who Pays?

This week, representatives from 50-plus countries gathered in Brussels for the “She Decides” conference, raising about $190 million in pledges to support women’s reproductive and sexual health and rights around the world. This is great news, but the relatively small absolute scale of the pledges highlights the challenge of substituting for US financial and political leadership.

The Damage Already Done to the Foreign Assistance Budget

When White House officials decided to talk publicly about a big boost in defense spending and big cuts for EPA, the State Department, and foreign assistance while still deep in their internal negotiation process, they did so for political reasons, making a direct case to voters devoid of any clearly stated policy rationale. It’s been encouraging, and even a little bit surprising, to see strong and quick statements of opposition coming from key Republicans in the Senate and House as well as the military community. But the reality remains that the White House has decided to politicize foreign assistance in a way that we have not seen for over 30 years.

On Inequality, Redistribution, and Wishful Thinking

A key goal of tax-and-spending policies is to alleviate poverty by redistributing income from the haves to the have-nots. The extent that this is possible depends on the balance between the number of higher earners and the number of poor people, and the efficiency of the mechanisms used.

Global Fund Executive Director Reboot

This week, the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria was set to name the organization’s new executive director. Instead, after the shortlist of candidates appeared in the New York Times, some in the global health community anonymously expressed concerns about the selection process and its results—and the Board abruptly announced it would restart the process from scratch. As the executive director search reboots, I am looking for candidates that have clarity, concrete plans, and capacity to make progress in three areas—the big 3—that are essential to the Fund’s survival: results, efficiency, and money.

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