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A double loss?

Despite all the recent shenanigans and ballyhoo in Congress over the debt ceiling and spending cuts, and though it be deepest August, the U.S. is proceeding apace to the end of the current fiscal year and the opening of the next, the 2012 fiscal year, which gets underway on October 1.

That there will be cuts and cutbacks in the 2012 budget is a given, but some expenditure, we would argue, is worth preserving. This includes the U.S. allocation to the International Fund for Ireland which, supporters argue, is more than ever needed in the face of challenges facing both the peace process and Northern Ireland's economy.

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Separate to the IFI, though not far removed from it, is the matter of a new U.S. economic envoy to the North. The State Department has been quiet on a replacement for Declan Kelly to the point that there are now concerns that Kelly will turn out to be first, and only, person to fill this post.

That would be a mistake. By his two years of diligent work as envoy, Kelly demonstrated that the U.S. can play a significant role in underpinning the political process with the kind of economic support that leads directly to jobs.

To lose U.S. funding for the IFI and the envoy position at the same time would be anything but a welcome outcome in August, or any other month.

Hopefully September will bring with it better news.