It was an easy promise to make: fully fund debt relief programs for poor countries started under two previous presidents.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden were "committed to living up to the promise” of those pledges, according their 2008 campaign.
And the quick answer is, yes, Obama has met that promise, said Tom Hart, U.S. executive director for the One Campaign, which advocates for policies to address global poverty.
A debt relief program for "heavily indebted poor countries,” or HIPC, was launched in 1996 under President Bill Clinton by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Donor nations including the United States supplemented that effort in 2005, under President George W. Bush, with the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative.
Obama just had to fund payments to the World Bank's International Development Association and the African Development Fund, and the United States would keep its word.
"What he committed to was no different than what his predecessors did,” said Ben Leo, who helped negotiate the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative and now works as global policy director for the One Campaign.
Obama's budgets have requested the full amount required for those payments, Hart said, though Congress hasn't always delivered. For example, the State Department's fiscal year 2012 budget requested $1.4 billion for the IDA. Still, lawmakers have approved payments big enough to cover debt relief, Hart said.
Obama and Biden didn't exactly step out on a limb when the promised to fully fund debt relief for heavily indebted poor countries. But debt relief experts say they've followed through, making this a Promise Kept.