Climate war veterans will remember that President Obama promised at the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference to contribute to a $100 billion fund for third-world kleptocracies. Soon after, though, Secretary Clinton backed away from the promise because of budget concerns.
Now Climatewire reports that Clinton has since found a work-around:
In a quest to protect the 1 percent of the U.S. budget that goes toward foreign aid — and the smaller slice devoted to helping vulnerable countries prepare for a warming world — the Obama administration and poverty alleviation groups have long sought to classify development dollars as defense spending.
The rationale, advocated by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, was that strengthening vulnerable countries is as central to national security as fighter jets and smart bombs. But strategy was also at play. Lumping foreign aid in with the sacred cow of defense spending, many advocates reasoned, would protect already scarce resources at a time of shrinking budgets.
But the game is not over yet, according to Climatewire:
Foreign aid made it into the defense pot. Instead of cheering, environmental activists now say they are worried. Defense spending — which now includes budgets for the State Department as well as the Pentagon, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Homeland Security — is capped under the deal at $684 billion for fiscal 2012. So far, according to proposals in the House, the wish list is about $10 billion above that cap.
“Here’s the rub,” said Andrew Deutz, the Nature Conservancy’s director of international government relations. “Someone’s got to go through that budget in the House and cut $10 billion. The fear is that further cuts will come from the foreign aid budget in order to protect the defense spending.”
Meanwhile, if a deal can’t be reached or the debt “supercommittee” tasked with proposing at least $1.5 trillion in additional overall budget cuts fails, additional spending cuts will automatically kick in across the board — including an additional $500 billion in defense cuts.
Will the GOP get fooled again?