From remarks by USAID Administrator J. Brian Atwood to an Overseas Development Council luncheon on Tuesday:

Yesterday we learned that the budget surplus has grown once again. It will be $1 trillion over the next 15 years. That is more than the combined GDPs of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Yet we continue to run our government under budget caps set when we had a deficit. These budget caps are a disaster when it comes to protecting America's international interests. Every day we are missing opportunities to advance our national interests, to understand the internal tensions that could lead a state to fail or go to war with its neighbor, to create new market opportunities, to control the flow of weapons of mass destruction, to promote democracy and human rights or to achieve sustainable development.

Without adequate staff and resources, we cannot know what we are missing. We are blind to both the opportunities and the threats. Our government is silenced in many forums when our voice can lead the world to better choices.

The politics of the budget process -- do we use the surplus to save Social Security or cut taxes? -- is producing backdoor isolationism, and both [the executive and legislative] branches are responsible for the current impasse. The international affairs account needs relief. We cannot fulfill our international responsibilities with a 30 percent reduction from last year's inadequate appropriation. The president and the Congress need to work together to fix this.