To Capitol Hill last week went Dwight Eisenhower's budget for foreign aid. Proposed outlay: about $5.8 billion, or some $1.8 billion less than Harry Truman's request for fiscal 1954. Other highlights of the 1954 Mutual Security program: ¶ Europe will still be the No. 1 beneficiary, but its proportion (more than $3 billion) of the whole MSA pie will be cut from about 75% to 55%. ¶ Asia will get about 30%, a larger share (about $1.7 billion) than ever before. This sum includes $400 million for Indo-China. representing about 40% of the cost of the Indo-Chinese war to France (although the French, cut down in Europe and bolstered in Indo-China, expect to come out with a lower MSA total than they got last year). ¶ Some $5,250,000,000 of the $5.8 billion will be spent for military hardware and other support. Economic aid (hitherto the prime concern of MSA and its predecessor, EGA) will be an indirect result of military buying from European suppliers or subsidies for European arms plants. ¶ About $550 million will be earmarked for continuing technical and economic development (Point Four) in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.
The Administration knew that its MSA program faced a rough reception on Capitol Hill, and brought up its biggest guns to help the $5.8 billion request on its way. The President, in a special message, guaranteed that the $5.8 billion figure had been "carefully developed," and added: "Unequivocally, I can state that this amount of money judiciously spent abroad will add much more to our nation's ultimate security . . . than would an even greater amount spent merely to increase the size of our own military forces in being . . ."
On Capitol Hill, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles warned that "all of Southeast Asia is today in great peril, and if Indo-China should be lost there would be a chain reaction throughout the Far East ..." Treasury Secretary George Humphrey spoke adamantly against any cuts in the program and, in the process, dashed hopes for a balanced budget: "I am distressed that we cannot balance the budget this year . . . the risks that would involve in our security would simply be too great . . ." Defense Secretary Charles Wilson, JCS Chairman Omar Bradley and MSA Director Harold Stassen echoed the Administration argument.
Congressional budget-slicers showed few signs of being impressed. Barring a new flare-up in Communist aggression, G.O.P. House and Senate leaders guessed they would be lucky to get the $5.8 billion program out of Congress (by midsummer) with an even $5 billion.