Coalition says securing health and wealth at home depends on sending money overseas

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the we Global Leadership Coalition is launching a campaign titled “Foreign Aid – What’s It Worth?” “

Coalition Chair Liz Schrayer and Campaign Co-Chair Hank Meijer, head of the Michigan-based Meijer Corporation, said the cost of ignoring overseas investments can add up to lost jobs and lives. lost.

That’s why, says Schrayer, the What’s It Worth campaign, at its core, asks a simple question.


Listen: Liz Schrayer and Hank Meijer discuss why sending dollars and aid overseas translates into economic benefits for Michigan.


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

Liz Schrayer, President, we Global Leadership Coalition: How do we make sure that we never, ever be in this position of a global pandemic, if we can help it. And to make sure we tackle global challenges before they get out of hand and end up on our doorstep. So this will force us to highlight these countless advantages of how the we can invest in development, diplomacy, global health, which have an impact on our daily life. So we ask ourselves the question: “Foreign aid, what is it worth?” Diplomacy, what is it worth? And we think the answer is simply that it affects a healthier life here at home, the safety of those who serve customers, our Michigan small farmers, and Michigan small businesses. I grew up in the Midwest and my mom was born in Detroit, and I used to drive to Kalamazoo to visit my grandparents all the time. And Kalamazoo is literally zero point for 500 million doses of Pfizer vaccine that the we just purchased to provide worldwide what is going to be essential in preventing these variants from spreading. And what is it worth? Three thousand jobs here in Michigan, plus millions of lives saved.

Make sure we tackle global challenges before they get out of hand and end up on our doorstep. »Liz Schrayer, President, we Global Leadership Coalition

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

Hank Meijer, CEO, Meijer Corporation, Co-Chair, 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 in merchandise last year, resulting in 1.1 million jobs. That’s nearly 20% of the workforce in Michigan. So from our perspective, we want our Michigan citizens, our Michigan customers, the buyers, to prosper, to have good jobs. And the way we have these good jobs is to support a manufacturing sector and an agricultural sector that thrives and depends on exports. And so it is in our interest. And that really makes the kind of foreign aid that is [about] 1% of our US budget, an extremely important investment to keep these good Michigan jobs.

What about from a purely political point of view? Former President Trump often insisted on making America beautiful again by making sure products were made in America, that we had to make sure factories were not moved overseas, etc. He added tariffs to try to stop this. And President Biden, when he was recently in Michigan talking about electric vehicles, said we need to make sure the supply chains are in America. Again when you try to sell foreign aid to the average electorate how do you push that and tell yourself we should keep doing things in America and yet send money out? from America at the same time?

Meijer: We must support the economies that can buy our American products. If the rest of the world’s economies can’t keep up with ours, then we won’t be able to support these great Michigan jobs if this export market dries up. And I think President Biden and former President Trump were passionate about the idea that, for example, in Michigan, our auto industry is being reborn. We cannot do this only with our internal market. We do this in collaboration with our Canadian partners. Half of our trade is with Canada. And it is above all to support our automotive industry. It is absolutely essential that what we make can be sold around the world.

Schrayer: Let me also add that this is one of the few two-party spaces in Washington. Over the past decade, more than 50 bipartisan bills have been enacted supporting increased investments in global health, food security, economic competition for women and girls in the development space and diplomacy.

We want our Michigan citizens, our Michigan customers, our buyers, to prosper, to have good jobs. And the way we have these good jobs is by supporting a manufacturing sector and an agricultural sector that thrives and depends on exports. ”—Hank Meijer, President, Meijer Corporation

So, given all of this, what would you like to see from Washington policymakers? Do you think that a sufficient amount of foreign aid is being sent at this time? Are there other areas, other countries that you think should be more targeted? Do you think there should be an increase in foreign aid? If you had your druthers, what would you like to see?

Schrayer: Foreign aid represents about 1% of our entire federal budget. There is a famous quote from former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who told Congress when asked this question [if] we’re spending enough money, “If you’re not fully funding the State Department, then [the] the military should spend more on ammunition. The military is, in fact, one of the strongest supporters of advancing our foreign aid and diplomatic budgets. If we want to make sure, as I said at the start, that we don’t end up with another global pandemic, we have to make the investments now, so that we are never here again.

Do you think they are making adequate investments right now?

Schrayer: In fact, we did a needs assessment earlier this year to look at the kind of increase we’re seeing in hunger, extreme poverty, and migration, in a series of global crises of instability. We are therefore asking for an increase. And we are already seeing the kind of response on Capitol Hill from Democrats and Republicans who recognize the needs are far greater than what we are investing now to keep Americans safe.

Meijer: What we want to see is that American jobs are thriving, American businesses are thriving. And the only way to do that is to make sure that we have the kind of relationships in the world that have people eager to buy our products. And it’s so central to Michigan’s economic prosperity. And that’s what we want to see continue.

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