By Cassandra Novick
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Wednesday insisted that AIDS funding should not be cut to reduce the deficit.
The debate over how much the United States should be spending money on AIDS policy and global health given the growing national debt is something that comes up quite often, Rubio acknowledged.
In response to this tension over funding, Rubio reassured that foreign aid is “not the reason we have the debt.
“In fact, if you zeroed out foreign aid it would do nothing for the debt, but it would be devastating not only for the world but for America’s role in it,” Rubio said.
Rubio noted that, based on recent opinion polls on foreign aid, there is widespread misunderstanding among the American people, stating that the US spends 1 percent of its annual budget on foreign aid, not the supposed 20-to-25 percent that the polls’ respondents believe is spent.
“I think it is something our country should be proud of, the amount of investment American taxpayers have made on this effort at a time of significant fiscal constraint,” Rubio said.
Rubio also explained that not only it is in the nation’s interest to continue to fund the fight against AIDS, but continuing the push against AIDS is a historical generational opportunity.
“The issue speaks to the core of who we are as a people; one of the things I’m proudest of… is [this nation’s] legacy of compassion,” Rubio explained, adding that one of the biggest challenges the U.S. faces is continuing this legacy of compassion in the face of financial hardship and complacency.