The US Global leadership coalition launches a campaign entitled “Foreign aid – what is it worth?”

Coalition President Liz Schrayer and campaign co-chair Hank Meijer, head of Michigan-based Meijer Corporation, say the cost of ignoring investing overseas can be counted in lost jobs and lost lives.

Therefore, says Schrayer, the What’s It Worth campaign is essentially asking a simple question.

Listen: Liz Schrayer and Hank Meijer explain why sending dollars and aid abroad brings Michigan economic benefits.

Read excerpts from Coalition President Liz Schrayer and Campaign Co-Chair Hank Meijer, edited for clarity:

Liz Schrayer, President, US Global leadership coalition: How can we make sure we are never in this global pandemic when we can help it. And to make sure we face global challenges before they get out of hand and end up on our doorstep. So we need to highlight these myriad benefits like this US invest in development, diplomacy and global health that affect our daily lives. So we ask the question: “Foreign aid, what is it worth? Diplomacy, what’s it worth? ”And we believe the answer is simply that it affects healthier living here at home, safety for those serving customers, for our Michigan smallholders and Michigan small businesses. I grew up in the Midwest and my mother was born in Detroit and I used to go to Kalamazoo to visit my grandparents. And Kalamazoo is literally ground zero for 500 million Pfizer vaccine doses that the US just bought to supply the whole world which will be crucial in stopping the spread of these variants. And what is it worth? Three thousand jobs here in Michigan in addition to saving millions of lives.

Make sure we face global challenges before they get out of hand and end on our doorstep. ”Liz Schrayer, President, US Global leadership coalition

Quinn Klinefelter, WDET News: Hank Meijer, you have a huge chain of stores across the state. There will be those who say that businesses in general, restaurants, etc. have lost money during the pandemic. They are struggling to get workers back. “We need every penny that we have to try to put into what we have here right now, instead of sending it abroad somewhere, at a time when we’re just trying to get the economy back on a balanced basis. “

Hank Meier, CEO, Meijer Corporation, Co-Chair of the “What’s It Worth” campaign: Well, I think that’s really what we’re talking about, too. Because at Meijer, for example, we’re a retailer, we’re a Michigan company, not a multinational. Michigan exported more than $ 44 billion worth of goods last year, creating 1.1 million jobs. That’s nearly 20% of the workforce in Michigan. In our view, we want our Michigan citizens, our Michigan customers, buyers, to thrive and have good jobs. And the way we have these good jobs is to support the manufacturing sector and an agricultural sector that thrive and depend on export. And that is our interest. And that is what really defines the type of foreign aid [about] 1% of our American budget is a hugely important investment in keeping these good jobs in Michigan.

What does it look like from a purely political point of view? Former President Trump often did a big deal to make America great again by making sure that products were made in America, that we should make sure no factories were being moved overseas, etc. He added tariffs to do this prevent. And President Biden, speaking recently in Michigan about electric vehicles, said we need to make sure the supply chains are in America. Again, if you’re trying to sell foreign aid to the average electorate, how are you going to go ahead and say we should keep doing things in America while sending money outside America?

Meijer: We need to support economies that can buy our American products. If the rest of the world’s economies can’t follow ours, we won’t be able to support these great Michigan jobs when this export market dries up. And I think both President Biden and former President Trump were excited about the idea that in Michigan, for example, our auto industry will revive. We can’t just do that with our home market. We do this in collaboration with our Canadian partners. Half of our trade is with Canada. And above all to support our automotive industry. It is absolutely critical that what we make can be sold all over the world.

Schrayer: Let me also add that this is one of the rare rooms of bipartisanism in Washington. In the past decade, more than 50 bipartisan bills have been signed in support of increased investment in global health, food security, economic competition between women and girls in development and diplomacy.

We want our Michigan citizens, our Michigan customers, our buyers, to be successful and have good jobs. And the way we have these good jobs is to support the manufacturing sector and an agricultural sector that thrive and rely on exports. ”—Hank Meijer, Chairman, Meijer Corporation

Given all of this, what would you want from Washington policymakers? Do you think there is sufficient foreign aid at the moment? Are there other areas, other countries, that you think should be more targeted? Do you think that foreign aid should be increased? If you had your Druthers what would you like to see?

Schrayer: Foreign aid accounts for around 1% of our total federal budget. There is a famous quote from former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who famously told Congress when asked about this question [if] We spend enough money: “If you don’t fully fund the State Department, then [the] The military should spend more on ammunition. ”Indeed, the military is one of the strongest advocates for funding our foreign aid and diplomacy budget. If, as I said earlier, we want to make sure that we do not suffer another global pandemic, we must invest now so that we are never in this place again.

Do you think they are making reasonable investments right now?

Schrayer: We actually did a needs assessment earlier this year to take a look at rising hunger, extreme poverty and migration, as well as a range of global crisis instabilities. That is why we are calling for an increase. And we are already seeing the response from Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, realizing the needs are far greater than what we are investing now to keep Americans safe.

Meijer: What we want to see is American jobs thrive, American companies thrive. And the only way we can do that is to make sure we have the kind of relationships around the world that get people to buy our products. And that’s at the core of Michigan’s economic prosperity. And we want to continue to see that.

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