WASHINGTON -- The United States has spent $2 trillion -- twice the national debt and two-thirds the country's Gross National Product - on foreign aid programs since 1946, Library of Congress figures show.
The figures, published Tuesday, estimate the United States spent more than $2.304 trillion on its foreign aid between 1946 -- when the program was born -- and 1980.
But that figure, more than twice the federal debt of $1.060 trillion as of May 11, includes the interest paid on the money borrowed by the U.S. government to finance the foreign aid program during those years.
Without including the interest payments, the total cost of the foreign aid program comes to more than $286.5 billion, according to the Library of Congress figures.
The figures, compiled by the Library for Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., were entered into the Congressional Record Tuesday by the conservative member of the Foreign Relations Committee and chairman of the Agriculture Committee.
Helms said in a statement be believes the U.S. economy would have been better off -- and would have had a higher Gross National Product - if the funds spent on foreign aid had instead been spent in the United States.
'A higher GNP would have meant higher revenues with the same tax rates we have today and thus a smaller deficit and fewer of the problems that are crippling our economy,' said Helms.
By the end of the first quarter of 1982, America's GNP had reached $2.995 trillion.
'It is impossible to predict with certainty the effects of reallocated resources,' Helms said.
'But I think it is fair to say that the return on an investment anywhere in the United States would have been better than in the 'investments' we have made with our foreign aid program.'
Helms said the future of the foreign aid program 'is a judgement that must be made now -- by those of us serving in the Congress of the United States.'
For fiscal 1983, the administration has requested a total military, security and economic foreign aid program of $11.1 billion.
The figures prepared by the Library of Congress for Helms showed that the five largest recipients of the $286.5 billion spent on U.S. foreign aid since 1946 are Vietnam, $23.4 billion; Israel, $18.5 billion; South Korea, $13.6 billion; India, $10.3 billion, and the United Kingdom, $8.7 billion.
The Library of Congress' list includes 196 countries, territories and groups of territories and 18 regional programs. Of those, 34 countries and one regional program -- the Indochina Associate States - have each received more than $1 billion in U.S. aid.
In addition to Vietnam, Israel, South Korea, India and the United Kingdom, those countries are Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, France, West Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Laos, Morocco, The Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Portugal, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey and Yugoslavia.