Twice this year, President Bush has stood on the world stage and promised to increase development assistance to poor nations. At the Group of 8 summit meeting in Scotland in July, he pledged to double aid to Africa by 2010. And at a UN meeting in New York in September, he said, “I call on the world’s nations to implement the Monterrey Consensus,” which calls for rich countries to increase their development aid to 0.7 per cent of GNP by 2015.

Toward that end, Bush requested a $2.3 billion increase from Congress for poverty-related development assistance in next year’s budget. But this week, House and Senate negotiators broke the promise. Britain, France and Germany have all announced how they plan to reach that 0.7 per cent goal. The US, which was rated the world’s second-stingiest country by a recent UN report, gives just 0.18 per cent of its GNP.

Bush has done a better job than his predecessor. But he hasn’t come close to doing enough. This is the time to show that his fine words about tackling global poverty are more than just words. His party is in charge and he has been willing to use the threat of a veto to try to stop a law banning torture at US military prisons. Why isn’t he using that same power to push Congress into backing the foreign-aid promises he’s been making to help the desperately poor?