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US fails to fulfill its promises to fight HIV/AIDS

From the New York Times:

Three years ago, President Bush created the Millennium Challenge
Account to give more money to poor countries that are committed to
policies promoting development. Mr. Bush said his government would
donate billions in incremental stages until the program got to a high
of $5 billion a year starting in 2006. While $5 billion is just 0.04
percent of America’s national income, President Bush touted the
proposal as proof that he cares about poverty in Africa and elsewhere.
“I carry this commitment in my soul,” the president said.

the third straight year, Mr. Bush has committed a lot less than he
promised. Michael Phillips of The Wall Street Journal reports that the
White House has quietly informed the managers of the Millennium
Challenge Account to expect about $3 billion in the next budget. This
follows a sad pattern. Mr. Bush said he would ask Congress for $1.7
billion in 2004; he asked for $1.3 billion and got $1 billion. He said
he would ask for $3.3 billion in 2005; he asked for $2.5 billion and
got $1.5 billion.

So if past is prologue, the Republican Congress will cut the diluted 2006 pledge even further.

of that appears to bother the Bush administration, which continues to
send high-ranking officials into the world to promote the anemic
Millennium Challenge Account to poor nations. The program – not the
money, since the account has yet to pay out a single dollar – is high
on the list of talking points for cabinet officials like the United
States trade representative, Robert Zoellick, who visited Africa in
December and cited the program every chance he got. Speaking to Latin
American ambassadors in Washington this month, a Treasury under
secretary, John Taylor, hailed it as a “major way in which we are
working with countries to meet the challenge of increasing productivity

Officials at the Millennium Challenge Account are
quick to list the countries that, through good governance, have
qualified for the aid program. They are not as quick to list the
countries that have received a dime: there aren’t any. Still, Paul
Applegarth, chief executive of the Millennium Challenge Corporation,
assured us last week that President Bush’s program is “really moving at
an extraordinarily quick pace.”

Maybe the administration should
tell that to the 300 million Africans who lack safe drinking water, or
the 3,000 African children under the age of 5 who die every day from
malaria, or the 1 in 16 African women who die in childbirth, or the
6,000 Africans who die each day of AIDS. But wait. Maybe the president
is planning to deal with the African AIDS catastrophe through his 2003
proposal to increase AIDS funds by $10 billion over the following five

Not unless he is planning to finish with a bang, because
the White House is expected to ask Congress for only $1.6 billion more
next year. When added to the amount that AIDS funds increased in 2004
and 2005, that would leave a whopping more than $6 billion to get out
of Congress in the next two years to meet Mr. Bush’s pledge. Congress
and Mr. Bush will point to the ballooning deficit and say they don’t
have the money. But that was a matter of choice. They chose to spend
billions on tax cuts for the wealthy and the war in Iraq. They can
choose to spend it instead to keep America’s promises.

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