November 26, 2002

ADDRESSING “ROOT CAUSES:”

ASHINGTON, Nov. 25 — The White House outlined a detailed proposal today to set up a competition among the world’s poorest nations for portions of a new $5 billion foreign aid fund. To win, countries must demonstrate that they are curbing corruption, spending more on education and following free market economic principles.

Under the plan, a new federal corporation will be set up to administer the aid, and decisions will be made by a Cabinet-level panel that will dole out the money much the way colleges assign scholarships.

The proposal has yet to be submitted to Congress, but it has a good chance of passing.

“Think of it as a bonus pool,” one of Mr. Bush’s senior advisers said today, briefing reporters. The administration’s judgments about which nations will get the money and which will not, he said, would depend on scores on a range of performance tests. The countries would be rated on everything from their encouragement of civil liberties and their spending on education and health, to their control of inflation and their use of budget targets and tax policy.

As a reader writes, this is actually pretty radical.