Skip to comments.CAFTA PUTS U.S. SOVEREIGNTY AND CONSTITUTION UNDER ATTACK
Posted on 07/25/2005 8:58:34 PM PDT by hedgetrimmer
Mr. OTTER. Mr. Speaker, I join the three previous speakers tonight, and I rise today in the urgent interest of America's sovereignty and the primacy of our laws and the Constitution. They are under attack, Mr. Speaker, by the Central American Free Trade Agreement that will soon be considered by this Chamber.
In fact, even referring to CAFTA as a ``trade agreement'' is a misnomer. Yes, it involves trade; but its influence on our economy, our legal system, and our way of life would be much more serious and sweeping than the benign term ``trade agreement'' suggests.
At its core, CAFTA is a document that uses more than 1,000 pages of the international vernacular of diplomacy to cede the right of the American people to be governed by their representatives that they elect according to the laws of their land and under the legal system established by their Constitution.
Specifically, CAFTA brazenly requires the executive branch of the United States Government, as well as this Congress, our State Governors, State legislators, and even local authorities to conform all existing and future Federal, State, and local laws to a new set of international statutes and standards that go beyond trade matters. Make no mistake: only one thing would be worse than approving and living under CAFTA , and that would be to approve it and then find ourselves unwilling to comply with its provisions, which demonstrably contravene every principle of Federalism that is at the basis of our form of government.
Such exercises of sovereign authority on the part of the United States Government on behalf of the American people we are entrusted to represent could subject our policies, our laws, our court judgments, and even our land to the will of an international tribunal empowered to impose the trade sanctions for our intransigence.
This is not a matter of opinion, Mr. Speaker. It is a matter of fact. Precedents established by judgments rendered under NAFTA-related cases leave no room for doubt that CAFTA will open us to all forms of statutory globalization that is singularly not in the best interests of the United States.
Let me be more blunt. Requiring U.S. domestic laws to conform to the extensive nontrade provisions in CAFTA is a direct violation of the Constitution as well as an abuse of trust placed in this government by the people of the United States. This is an intrusion upon the sovereign rights of the duly elected representatives in Federal, State, and local positions. But more importantly, it is nothing short of an abdication of the rights of those who elected us.
Let us look at some specifics. Under CAFTA , a tribunal empowered to resolve a dispute would be made up of judges from three countries; two countries, one each, representing those in the dispute, as well as a judge from a third country from the CAFTA trade agreement. Now, no matter how you do the math, it adds up to one voice for the United States against two judges from Central American countries without the tradition of constitutional jurisprudence or democracy of which we are justifiably proud. Those odds simply are unacceptable.
Beyond the CAFTA tribunal, this agreement would submit the United States to an even greater degree of unreasonable and unwarranted offshore jurisdictional control in the guise of the United Nations and the World Bank. CAFTA would empower them to order payments of U.S. tax dollars to foreign investors who claim that the U.S. business laws and regulations are too strict by international standards. Neither our Constitution nor our courts have ever legitimately contemplated such a circumstance and to do so now would be, once again, entirely unacceptable.
U.S. businesses already must marshal all the ingenuity and technological advantages that they can to compete in the global marketplace. In addition, they are subject to severe and growing regulatory burdens placed on them by our own country's laws. Under CAFTA , they will find themselves at even greater disadvantage to foreign investors. The United States will only be a good place to do business if you are not from the United States. Our own businesses and entrepreneurs, our economic warriors will be stripped of their weaponry and sent to fight in a losing battle without protection.
These prospects terrify me. And, yet, we have heard talk lately from some who do not find any of this to be a matter of concern. They say that CAFTA's implementing language would do nothing to change current U.S. law. To believe that you would have to be looking at CAFTA with blinders on, unable or unwilling to see beyond today and into the potential effects years down the road. While today's laws may be safe, all future laws intended to protect America and their interests are indeed in jeopardy.
All this might sound a bit farfetched and overly dramatic. Unfortunately, there are numerous examples of times when they have been forced to change our laws and our ways of doing business after submitting to the authority of an international court.
For example, under NAFTA, a tribunal similar to the one proposed in CAFTA ordered the United States to allow Mexican trucks to operate throughout the United States because NAFTA included the right of foreign transportation firms to operate in our country. We in Congress have regularly expressed our concern about the considerable safety problems associated with Mexican trucks that do not meet the U.S. safety requirements.
In addition, just last year Congress had to pass legislation repealing U.S. tax laws because the World Trade Organization decided that they were not in accordance with international policy. Changes to our tax policy should be based on our own laws and our own practices, not forced upon us by the whims and biases of international tribunals.
I am a strong believer in free and fair trade, and I believe that developing good trade policies will benefit U.S. farmers and manufacturers. But I cannot support new trade agreements if we do not maintain an effort to enforce existing agreements. Ineffective, uneven enforcement of NAFTA has led to existing tensions between the United States and the Canadian beef, potato and softwood lumber industries, as well as the Mexican bean and sugar beet industries, significantly affecting producers in my State. While we refuse to take other countries to task over their exploitations of NAFTA, we allow our own sovereignty to be continually assaulted by the NAFTA tribunal.
Having worked as an Idaho businessman for most of my life, I know that exporters in my State can compete and win on a level playing field; however, NAFTA has become a double-edged sword being used to undermine and ultimately destroy industry and jobs in my State. Rather than fixing old problems, CAFTA merely adds insult to injury by continuing this downward spiral toward a complete loss of U.S. sovereignty.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, I just would say that once again, there are many numerous opportunities for us to take a look at how we have been disadvantaged under NAFTA; and CAFTA , as has been said before, is just an ugly relative of NAFTA.
Congressional testimony on CAFTA
If NAFTA didn't put US sovereignty under attack, certainly CAFTA doesn't.
They both do.
Who's testimony was this? It's excellent!
Representative Butch Otter, Idaho
Save your breath. The antis here are akin to the Tri-lateral Commission, CFR, and Bilderberg crowd. Logic means nothing.
The other thing I wanted to point out is that it is interesting how we constantly shift the paradigm on why CAFTA is so important. Initially, of course, and when you are talking to an old businessman and an old international grocery salesman like myself, and you tell me that we have some opportunity here to build trade, I am all for it. So I say, well, show me the numbers. Show me the numbers, like McDonald's used to. They would go in and take a look at the net disposable income, and they would say we cannot afford to build a McDonald's down here, in one of these countries, because who could buy our product?
Who can go in there and buy a hamburger, two all-beef patties, special sauce, onions, lettuce, pickles, cheese on a sesame seed bun, plus french fries, and a diet Pepsi or Coke or whatever else they would be selling? Because you see, quite frankly, there is no one in that country at that average wage that would have the net disposable income to do it.
So when the trade agreement did not work, suddenly we shifted the paradigm to political. We have to do this for these five countries down there, because if we do not, they will go down the drain to communism. They will go down the drain to Fidel Castro and to Hugo Chavez from Venezuela, and Ortega is going to take over again, and these other folks are all going to be taking over. So we absolutely have to allow these countries to do this.
Well, now, did we not start this in 1984, and have we not given them every economic benefit? And if this is as far as we have gotten since 1984, in 20, 21 years, I am a little concerned that if this is as far as we have gotten, we are not going anywhere with CAFTA .
So finally, when the political argument did not work, now they have shifted it to immigration. And my good friend, the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Goode), said it very succinctly, and that is that that is the exact same thing they told us with NAFTA.
--Rep Butch Otter
Rep. Otter is good!!!
No more expensive trade!
the Tri-lateral Commission, CFR, and Bilderberg crowd are PRO CAFTA.
Interesting congressional testimony on CAFTA PING
Defeat CAFTA, withdraw from NAFTA, and make America a sovereign nation again. Also, get the UN out of the US, and the US out of the UN, and withdraw from all multi-party world bodies like the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, and the International Monetary fund. Then, renegotiate all existing trade agreements in a bilateral fashion with the USA's interests paramount. Anything else is a failure of our elected representatives to uphold their obligations to America's citizens.
My point was/is that anyone who believes that those folks secretly run things believes in fairy tales.
I am not saying they don't exist. It is obvious they do. I am saying they don't have the power and influence attributed to them.
What is the difference between 1000 letters from American citizen and one letter signed by 10 CFR members?
I know I am going to regret this but...What?
The one letter signed by 10 CFR members will be at the top of the stack and that will be the only one the Rep actually reads.
Well, it is easier to read one letter than 1,000. :-)
I am not buying this invisible hand behind the government business. What we can see is bad enough.
"I am not buying this invisible hand behind the government business."
Do you think that legislators write Bills and push for them on their own (to help put their standards into their district and community)
or do you think there is 'outside' influences such as businessmen and lobbyists?
Do you think financial contributions have an effect of the passage of Bills?
Specifically, CAFTA brazenly requires the executive branch of the United States Government, as well as this Congress, our State Governors, State legislators, and even local authorities to conform all existing and future Federal, State, and local laws to a new set of international statutes and standards that go beyond trade matters.
I have heard similar arguments with respect to some of the other agreements we are involved in. Since there are over 1000 pages, could someone point me to the section that requires this?
I have not read the agreement, but there are a number of statements made by the speaker that I would like to actually see in writing.
Every trade agreement has to have some method of issue resolution. I heard the many cries of horror for NAFTA, but have somehow missed all of the horrors that eminated from it. To the best of my knowledge, anything that Congress finds objectionable under any trade agreement (including the free flow of trucks) can be handled with legislation. Congress does not act, but merely expresses concern. Apparently these concerns are not so substantial after all.
No trade agreement can dictate how Congress or any state does its business and frames its laws, except as it may involve specific trade issues.
But I have not read it. To those who have, please educate me.
WTF? Do you know what you are talking about? You need a dictionary. When you get one, look up "akin".
...we allow our own sovereignty to be continually assaulted by the NAFTA tribunal.
CAFTA merely adds insult to injury by continuing this downward spiral toward a complete loss of U.S. sovereignty.
Much more than "interesting" my friend, and about dam# time!!!
To admit outside influence is not to accept an invisible hand controlling the world.
Thank you for your kind and polite mention of my ommission. I meant are "akin to the believers in....."
Again, thank you for pointing that out to me. I hope you bring my attention to any other errors you see as you have such a pleasant way of pointing those thngs out.
CAFTA: at what cost?
Tuesday, July 26, 2005 - Bangor Daily News
In recent weeks, the president has been pressing the Congress to pass the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), the administration's free trade proposal with El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. This week the House of Representatives is expected to take up the measure: but at what cost?
Pressing his case in a recent speech, President Bush claimed that the pact would aid U.S. farmers, businesses and workers, claiming "by passing CAFTA, the United States would open up a market of 44 million consumers for our farmers and small business people."
But if this is such a slam-dunk case, why does such a broad, bipartisan coalition - including nearly 30 Republicans in the House of Representatives, business organizations, labor groups, family farmers, ranchers, churches and faith-based groups -strongly oppose CAFTA?
These opponents are hardly anti-trade zealots. Clearly, something else is going on here. During the president's tenure in office, Congress has typically voted within 65 days after he has signed a trade agreement. But CAFTA has been on hold for more than a year because congressional opposition has remained steadfast.
When it comes to CAFTA, the benefit is pretty hard to find. Despite having 44 million inhabitants, the CAFTA nations only boast the purchasing power of New Haven, Connecticut. More than 40 percent of Central American workers work for less than two dollars a day. Clearly, under these conditions, CAFTA will not truly open new market opportunities for American products-as currently written, it merely allows more outsourcing and access to cheap labor markets with almost nonexistent environmental and labor standards.
How could such a bad deal for our workers pass? In recent days, the administration has authorized House leaders to secure votes with whatever is at hand, from extra funding for individual members' districts in the highway and energy bills to the still incomplete annual appropriations bills. Members are being asked to trade away their votes for a trade agreement that only promises to trade away American jobs.
Two years ago, this tactic worked to pass the deeply flawed Medicare bill by one vote - leadership held open a 15-minute vote for three hours while they twisted arms in order to ensure its passage. It is expected that the CAFTA vote will be more of the same.
Is this the way that the people's House should look after the best interests of our nation? What message does this send the American people and our work force? And why must these votes always be held in the dark of night? While working Americans sleep, their jobs are traded away in a Capitol Hill back room.
The administration may want this deal passed as quickly as possible, before opposition mounts even further. But the people who have suffered the most under our trade policies - including my neighbors, my co-workers and my family, and many of the good people of Maine - have earned the right to ask the simple question about what a new trade deal will mean for their families, and get some real answers before we move forward.
All Americans have earned this right. And we're still waiting for the answer.
Michael H. Michaud is Maine's 2nd District congressman.
"some unknown reason"
To me there's nothing unknown about it. It's the globalist exporting of our economic base while at home the economy implodes. I have to laugh though at how all the Clintonites are bashing CAFTA but conveniently forget how CLinton pushed so strongly for NAFTA. There's hypocrisy everywhere on this.
It is interesting that when NAFTA went through most of the outrage came from the Left. Years later though, many patriotic, heartland communities are feeling the sting and speaking out against it.
Please tell me of your next invitation to the CFR Meeting.
Rep. Otter nails it right here. THIS is the reason President Bush is pushing this so hard. Globalization rules!
What better way to push the globalization agenda than through a supposedly innocent trade agreement.
This represents a chance for this country to take a giant step backwards. We ain't gonna be happy living under these new rules. This must be stopped.
Can't, that would be telling secrets. Next you would be wanting the code.
And even those can be aborted if Congress and the President decide to. The biggest objection voiced on these threads is that we are giving up our sovereignty to foreign powers. That is total BS.
Even now we are in disagreements with the WTO. We have the choice to accept their rulings or not to, but the choice is ours and it is a choice Congress will make. No foreign power controls us.
Most opponents, imo, are backers of unions and others who can't stand the heat of competition. When they scream about all the harm these agreements are going to cause and you ask them to explain our present economy, they change the subject.
Same with those who fret over our trade with China.
So far, that's the way I see it. I've yet to see any of my sovereignty lost with the other agreements.
Most opponents, imo, are backers of unions and others who can't stand the heat of competition. When they scream about all the harm these agreements are going to cause and you ask them to explain our present economy, they change the subject. Same with those who fret over our trade with China.
Yes, this is the real issue and the one that Buchanan hangs his trade hat on. We have two issues to deal with. One, union wages frequently make our products uncompetitive with other countries and help lead to the deficit we are experiencing. The other is a two pronged problem. The low (in some instance, slave) wages paid in some countries, including China, and the subsidies given which make some products and services cheaper to export. The last is what most of the trade agreements were instituted to overcome. But they are still a problem with many countries.
Union wages being "uncompetitive with other countries" is a polite way of saying "We can make a S#@T-load more by shifting the manufacturing base somewhere else instead of correcting the problem at home." Do you really believe that the sweatshops would cease to exist if union workers were paid less? Would illegal aliens stop being hired if Americans volunteered to do their work?
"explaining our present economy" is one in which the effects of NAFTA have already been felt. BTW it's interesting that as the Chinese become further empowered by our trade policy they may just use the power the West has endowed them with to someday kill American soldiers, as they have done in the past. How can we empower a nation that has recently threatened us with nuclear attack?
"Giving up our soveereignty to other powers" should be reworded as " slowly giving up our concept of nationhood to one world government."
If all the time, money, and energy spent on fighting these trade agreements were spent on eliminating the above, we would be more than competitive with the "slave labor" wages.
I didn't try and make a value judgment, just a statement of fact. There are lots of things that the government can do to "protect" the wages, but wage earners are also consumers.
Do you really believe that the sweatshops would cease to exist if union workers were paid less? Would illegal aliens stop being hired if Americans volunteered to do their work?
Again, making me sound like Simon Legree doesn't eliminate the issue. You pose two unrelated questions. The first one begs for countries to do something not in their national interest (from their perspective). Equalizing wages in some fashion is the issue, and from the tone of your post, not one that the US should contribute to. As for the second issue, whether we like it or not, illegals are doing work others won't. I'm not sure how to resolve the issue other than close the borders and see what happens. Again, the consumer will ultimately feel the pain, and consumers aren't unionized, so they don't count.
BTW it's interesting that as the Chinese become further empowered by our trade policy they may just use the power the West has endowed them with to someday kill American soldiers, as they have done in the past. How can we empower a nation that has recently threatened us with nuclear attack?
I don't know. I'm not an apologist for our trade policies, nor for MFN with China. But I assume that this government does not want to lose out to the EU and other trading blocks. In short, our economy demands such trade.
"Giving up our soveereignty to other powers" should be reworded as " slowly giving up our concept of nationhood to one world government."
Yes, I agree. But from an economic perspective, we are becoming one global marketplace whether we like it or not. How long before the political distinctions are lost is anyone's guess. But yes, it will happen.
I tend to agree in general, but as has been pointed out earlier, these agreements do contain other more political agenda items which do cause some of the concerns. But yes, in fact from a wage perspective, we are pricing ourselves out of the world marketplace. I don't see any backing off of that.
I would say from a cost perspective rather than a wage perspective. As you know, wages are just a part of total costs of goods.
I submit that union work rules cost us more than union wages; that the threat and costs of lawsuits affect our manufactrurers, distributors, and resellers quite a bit increasing their costs, as well as the loss of risk taking and entreprenuership which give us new, cheaper products; that unnecessary regulations are a big impediment to our economic competitiveness; that high and misapplied taxes are a detriment to business; government subsidies distort the market and raise costs, tariffs on imports to protect special interests like coffe and sugar distort the market and trade; government involvement in hiring and firing practices distort business decisions; the costs of health care and other benefits are greatly increased by government polocies; and on and on.
Wages are the least of these concerns in our business costs and competitiveness.
The next guys here who likely will have to do a 180 are Mark Kennedy and John Kline. They are generally solid conservatives, but may have gotten roped into agreeing to really bad promises to the White House to support this turkey.
Time to put the Constitution before politics. If that burns bridges, so be it. The Base will remember...and defend any real patriots. And they will also remember who sold them out for political candy...
Disagree. Yes, there are many costs that go into a manufactured package, but by far the costs of salaries and wages together with the associated life, health and retirement packages make up the lion's share of costs. And with unions, the costs of health care and other benefits are greatly increased by the bargaining process, not governmental policies. Generally, the only place the government gets involved there is social security, 1/2 of which comes out of wages, and the funding for retirement plans. The government now requires that pension plans are actually funded rather than the creation of a debt note in the financials.
Lawsuits are problematic, but unless you are big tobacco, nothing like wages. Take a look at any annual report and look at the cost of sales, most of which is cost of goods manufactured. It can range from 1/2 to 80 percent of sales.
Again, I don't really care one way or the other, nor am I making value judgements about unions. They exist, and they drive up costs significantly. This includes union workrules which I consider part of salaries and wages.
Sure they would. Other nations charge tariffs on our goods all the time. Some even ban some of our products from their countries. Tariffs are no different than fines.
What are they going to do if we don't pay the fine? The worse they could do is put us back to where we were before any agreement.
Yes, the total wage package is what one must look to. But that is a union dictated package and that is the largest piece of the pie by far. They have created a nice standard of living for their members but have pretty much priced themselves out of the world market.
As for the other items, I can't disagree. It all adds up in the long run, some more than others depending on the industry. Not surprisingly, Europe has many of the same government rules and unfunded mandates. But with the substantial cost of labor packages in the US, it's not surprising to find companies relocating their services and even manufacturing to much less costly areas.
I rest my case for awhile but I am willing to go on.Oh yes, some employees spend the bulk of their workday on FreeRepublic rather than working. That harms our productivity. :-)
Yes, I've heard some stats showing as high as 40% internet use during business hours. But I'm sure the unions would not permit that from their members...Take care.
When trade was unilateral, it was nation to nation. Because the WTO makes trade multilateral, it is one nation, us, against many.
If we don't pay the fines, which are not tariffs btw, they can conduct a multilateral campaign against us. It puts US citizens in a very bad position, whether you say we have to pay the fines or not. It only makes ammunition for the other nations of the world and it doesn't have to be that way. But you see the internationalists who put America in that position, like it, because we're damned if we do and damned if we don't.
Why would a loyal government put their nation into that situtation?