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Bono

Pushes U.S. to Increase

Aid to Poor

2/2/2006 2:46 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF

By NEDRA PICKLER, ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

Quoting from Islamic, Jewish and Christian texts, rock star Bono called Thursday for the U.S. government to give an additional 1 percent of the federal budget to the world's poor.

Speaking to President Bush and members of Congress at the National Prayer Breakfast, the U2 front man said it's unjust to keep poor people from selling their goods while singing the virtues of the free market, to hold children to ransom for the debts of their grandparents and to withhold medicines that would save lives.

"God will not accept that," he said. "Mine won't. Will yours?"

Bono's speech riveted the ballroom audience that included the president and first lady and leaders from Congress, the Cabinet, the military, the clergy and countries from around the world. At every table, Bono had distributed white plastic bracelets from The ONE Campaign to fight AIDS and poverty, and Sen. Hillary Clinton was among those who wrapped it around her fingers while she listened.

Bono thanked the president for helping to fight the spread of malaria and AIDS. Bush, in markedly lighter remarks than the singer, praised him as "a doer" but didn't comment on his proposal.

"The thing about this good citizen of the world is he's used his position to get things done," Bush said. "You're an amazing guy, Bono. God bless you." Bono said the United States spends less than 1 percent of its budget on the world's poor. One percent of last year's budget would have been about $26 billion.

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