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House of Representatives ^ | July 19, 2005 | Congressional Testimony

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.

[Begin Insert]

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.

[End Insert]

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.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; US: Idaho
KEYWORDS: cafta; corporatism; freetrade; ftaa; hemispheric; integration; nafta; redistribution; wealth
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To: hedgetrimmer

It depends on to whom they are loyal.

51 posted on 07/26/2005 6:16:57 PM PDT by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all that needs to be done needs to be done by the government.)
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To: hedgetrimmer


52 posted on 07/27/2005 11:03:18 AM PDT by madfly
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