Americans Are Horribly Misinformed About How Much We Spend on Foreign Aid

People across the political spectrum often agree that we spend too much on foreign aid. But have no idea how little that already is.

One thing people across the political spectrum often agree on is that we can help fix the budget by spending less on foreign aid. The problem, though, is that according to a November 30 questionnaire, Americans have no idea how little we really spend on foreign aid in the first place. And the amount Americans think would be responsibly conservative is actually 21 times the amount we currently spend.

In this context, politicians can rail against profligate spending on foreign aid and get traction with constituents even though that spending is lower than people want it to be. Public debates about the budget—or any point of policy—can be completely divorced from reality when the public doesn't have its facts straight. The solution? A more responsible media (and, perhaps, a more discriminating attitude from the audience).

Via Ezra Klein