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291. Memorandum From the Special Representative for Economic Summits (Owen) to President Carter 1

SUBJECT

  • Future Aid Goals

A few weeks ago you approved agency recommendations that our goal should be to increase US concessional aid by one-third in real terms by FY 1982.2 Allowing for inflation, this means that concessional aid would double in nominal terms by FY 1982—to over $10 billion. News of this decision has begun to leak—notably to the Christian Science Monitor. We have received queries from Congressman Long’s3 office.

At your foreign aid budget meeting, OMB staff pointed out that we are obligated by law to show expected out-year outlays five years in advance. You expressed concern, as did the Vice President, over the effect of showing future higher aid goals. It was agreed to postpone a decision until I could consult with members of the Legislative Inter-Agency Group.4

I have now consulted. All members of this Group feel that:

a. The out-year goals should be shown and discussed with the Congress since to do otherwise (e.g., to straight-line future years) would be to expose ourselves to the charge of deliberate deception.

b. The out-year goals should be shown as very tentative targets, whose fulfillment will depend on a substantial improvement in aid performance; these targets will be reviewed and perhaps revised from year to year, in light of that performance.

RECOMMENDATION

That you approve our showing and discussing with the Congress the long-term aid goals that you approved recently, in the tentative and conditional sense described above.5

  1. Source: Carter Library, Records of the Office of the Staff Secretary, Presidential File, Box 65, 12/21/77 [2]. Confidential. Sent for action. Brzezinski wrote at the top of the page: “Concur. ZB.” An attached undated note from Hutcheson indicates that OMB also concurred. (Ibid.)
  2. See the Attachment to Document 282.
  3. Apparently a reference to Representative Clarence Long.
  4. No other record of a meeting specifically on foreign aid was found. Carter met to discuss the 1979 foreign affairs and intelligence budget on December 5 from 2 to 5:32 p.m. (Carter Library, Presidential Materials, President’s Daily Diary)
  5. Carter indicated his approval of the recommendation and initialed “J.”