CAFTA: More Bureaucracy,
Less Free Trade
June 6, 2005
The Central America Free Trade Agreement, known as CAFTA, will be the source of intense political debate in Washington this summer. The House of Representatives will vote on CAFTA ratification in June, while the Senate likely will vote in July.
oppose CAFTA for a very simple reason: it is unconstitutional.
The Constitution clearly grants Congress alone the authority to regulate
international trade. The plain text of Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 is
incontrovertible. Neither Congress
nor the President can give this authority away by treaty, any more than they can
repeal the First Amendment by treaty. This
fundamental point, based on the plain meaning of the Constitution, cannot be
overstated. Every member of
Congress who votes for CAFTA is voting to abdicate power to an international
body in direct violation of the Constitution.
donít need government agreements to have free trade. We merely need to lower or eliminate taxes on the American
people, without regard to what other nations do. Remember, tariffs are simply taxes on consumers.
Americans have always bought goods from abroad; the only question is how
much our government taxes us for doing so.
As economist Henry Hazlitt explained, tariffs simply protect
politically-favored special interests at the expense of consumers, while
lowering wages across the economy as a whole.
Hazlitt, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Murray Rothbard, and
countless other economists have demolished every fallacy concerning tariffs,
proving conclusively that unilateral elimination of tariffs benefits the
American people. We donít need
CAFTA or any other international agreement to reap the economic benefits
promised by CAFTA supporters, we only need to change our own harmful economic
and tax policies. Let the rest of
the world hurt their citizens with tariffs; if we simply reduce tariffs and
taxes at home, we will attract capital and see our economy flourish.
is absurd to believe that CAFTA and other trade agreements do not diminish
American sovereignty. When we grant
quasi-governmental international bodies the power to make decisions about
American trade rules, we lose sovereignty plain and simple.
I can assure you first hand that Congress has changed American tax laws
for the sole reason that the World Trade Organization decided our rules unfairly
impacted the European Union. Hundreds
of tax bills languish in the House Ways and Means committee, while the one bill
drafted strictly to satisfy the WTO was brought to the floor and passed with
great urgency last year.
tax bill in question is just the tip of the iceberg. The quasi-judicial regime created under CAFTA will have the
same power to coerce our cowardly legislature into changing American laws in the
future. Labor and environmental
rules are inherently associated with trade laws, and we can be sure that CAFTA
will provide yet another avenue for globalists to impose the Kyoto Accord and
similar agreements on the American people.
CAFTA also imposes the International Labor Organizationís manifesto,
which could have been written by Karl Marx, on American business.
I encourage every conservative and libertarian who supports CAFTA to read
the ILO declaration and consider whether they still believe the treaty will make
America more free.
means more government! Like the UN,
NAFTA, and the WTO, it represents another stone in the foundation of a global
government system. Most Americans
already understand they are governed by largely unaccountable forces in
Washington, yet now they face having their domestic laws influenced by
bureaucrats in Brussels, Zurich, or Mexico City.
CAFTA and other international trade agreements do not represent free trade. Free trade occurs in the absence of government interference in the flow of goods, while CAFTA represents more government in the form of an international body. It is incompatible with our Constitution and national sovereignty, and we donít need it to benefit from international trade.