Fact Check: The U.S. Is NOT Giving $700 Billion 'To Other Countries'

Fact Check

  • by: Olivera Perkins
Fact Check: The U.S. Is NOT Giving $700 Billion 'To Other Countries' Way Overblown

Is the United States giving $700 billion to other countries? No, that's not true: The entire U.S. State Department and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) budget was estimated at about $52.5 billion, or $52,505,402,000, for fiscal 2021, according to State Department documents. That not only covers foreign aid, but such costs as embassy security, construction and maintenance. Total federal government spending in 2020 was estimated at $4.7 trillion, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The claim appeared in a Facebook post (archived here) published December 29, 2020, which opened:

Remember when we didn't have $5bil to build the WALL? Now we've got $700bil+ to give to other countries.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Jan 5 17:48:27 2021 UTC)

The author of the post doesn't state a time frame during which the $700 billion -- that's 700,000,000,000 dollars -- was purportedly heading to other countries. The post cites no source for the $700 billion figure, and State Department numbers show that the author of the post dramatically missed the mark in those assumptions about U.S. foreign aid.

Misperceptions about how much the U.S. spends on foreign aid are common, according to George Ingram, a senior fellow on the global economy and development at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. In a post on the Brookings website, "What Every American Should Know About U.S. Foreign Aid," he wrote:

Foreign aid is money, technical assistance, and commodities that the United States provides to other countries in support of a common interest of the U.S. and that country. Opinion polls consistently report that Americans believe foreign aid is about 25% of the federal budget, when it is actually less than 1%. As the world's wealthiest nation, the U.S. provides more assistance than any other country, but a smaller proportion of its gross national product (GNP) than other wealthy nations. Historically, support for foreign aid has been bipartisan.

The author of the Facebook post also stated that "we didn't have $5bil to build the WALL?" apparently referring to the barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border that President Donald Trump said the U.S. would reinforce and expand, and that Mexico would fund.

The U.S. is spending $15 billion on the wall, according to an October 27, 2020 investigation of federal spending records by The Texas Tribune and ProPublica. Mexico has not funded the project.

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  Olivera Perkins

Olivera Perkins is a veteran journalist and fact checker at Lead Stories, who has covered a variety of beats, including labor, employment and workforce issues for several years at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. Olivera has received state and national awards for her coverage, including those from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW). She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.

Read more about or contact Olivera Perkins

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