Ron Paul
1998 Ron Paul Chapter 103

Don’t Fast-Track Free Trade Deal

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25 September 1998

1998 Ron Paul 103:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, today, the House is asked to vote to approve H.R. 2621, a fast-track procedure under which international agreements might be approved as far into the future as October 1, 2005. The “fast track” procedure requires the President to submit draft international agreements, implementing legislation, and a statement of administrative action for congressional approval. Amendments to the legislation in Congress are not permitted once the bill is introduced and committee and floor action votes may consist only of “yes” or “no” votes on any potential agreement as it is introduced.

1998 Ron Paul 103:2
The fast-track procedure bill, in addition to creating an extra-constitutional procedure by which international agreements become ratified, sets general international economic policy objectives, re-authorizes “Trade Adjustment Assistance” welfare for workers who lose their jobs and for businesses which fail, and creates a new permanent position of Chief Agriculture Negotiator within the office of the United States Trade representative. The bill would reestablish the President’s extra-constitutional “executive authority” to negotiate “side agreements” such as those dealing with environmental and labor issues. Lastly, the bill “pays” the government’s “cost” of free trade by increasing taxes on a number of businesses which recently benefitted by a favorable judgment in federal tax court.

1998 Ron Paul 103:3
The Constitution clearly allows for international agreements and clearly specifies the means by which they are to be accomplished. Treaties, quite clearly are to be negotiated by the President with advice and consent of the Senate and can only become effective upon being ratified by a two-thirds majority of the Senate. The Constitution, however, does not expressly confer authority to make international agreements other than by treaties and, of course, the tenth amendment specifies that “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people.” To ignore or allow the one branch of the federal government to delegate it’s powers to others destroys the liberty-protecting ability inherent to the Constitutional separation of powers.

1998 Ron Paul 103:4
Congress does have, amongst its enumerated powers, regulation of commerce with foreign nations. Imposing import tariffs, quotas, and embargoes, however economically detrimental to the macro economy of the United States, are, at least, amongst powers delegated to Congress by Article I of the Constitution. Regulating commerce, of course, refers to enacting domestic laws which effect voluntary exchanges between trading partners who happen to be citizens of different governments. International agreements between the governments of those trading partners cannot be construed to escape the stringent treaty ratification process established by the document’s framers just by suggesting Congress has the power to enact domestic regulation regarding foreign commerce. If this were an allowable justification for bypassing the constitutionally-mandated treaty process, Article I Congressional powers would almost completely undermine the necessity for the Constitutionally-mandated treaty process. Treaties regarding everything from international monetary policy to military policy would suddenly become “ripe” for the “treaty-making” power of the President and Congress. Instead, a bright line process exists whereby entering into agreements with foreign nations under which the U.S. government will do “X” if the government of Ruritania does “Y” must be understood to constitute an international agreement and, as such, require the more restrictive treaty process.

1998 Ron Paul 103:5
Moreover, because international courts regard “treaties” and “agreements” as equally binding on signatory governments, a stronger case is made that they must be made subject to the same constitutional process. Insofar as H.R. 2621 ignores the lake of a congressional role in the international treaty process and instead attempts to make Congress an integral part of a procedure for which it lacks any constitutional authority, this bill can be opposed on constitutional grounds alone.

1998 Ron Paul 103:6
Even if the procedure advocated by the bill were able to survive what should always be the Congressman’s initial threshold of constitutionality, the bill contains provisions which will likely continue our country down the ugly path of internationally-engineered, “managed trade” rather than that of free trade. As explained by economist Murray N. Rothbard:

1998 Ron Paul 103:7
[G]enuine free trade doesn’t require a treaty (or its deformed cousin, a ‘trade agreement’; NAFTA is called an agreement so it can avoid the constitutional requirement of approval by two-thirds of the Senate). If the establishment truly wants free trade, all it has to do is to repeal our numerous tariffs, import quotas, anti-dumping laws, and other American-imposed restrictions of free trade. No foreign policy or foreign maneuvering is necessary.

1998 Ron Paul 103:8
In truth, the bipartisan establishment’s fanfare of “free trade” fosters the opposite of genuine freedom of exchange. Whereas genuine free traders examine free markets from the perspective of the consumer (each individual), the mercantilist examines trade from the perspective of the power elite; in other words, from the perspective of the big business in concert with big government. Genuine free traders consider exports a means of paying for imports, in the same way that goods in general are produced in order to be sold to consumers. But the mercantilists want to privilege the government business elite at the expense of all consumers, be they domestic or foreign.

1998 Ron Paul 103:9
Fast track is merely a procedure under which the United States can more quickly integrate and cartelize government in order to entrench the interventionist mixed economy. In Europe, this process culminated in the Maastricht Treaty, the attempt to impose a single currency and central bank and force relatively free economies to ratchet up their regulatory and welfare states. In the United States, it has instead taken the form of transferring legislative and judicial authority from states and localities and to the executive branch of the federal government. Thus, agreements negotiated under fast track authority (like NAFTA) are, in essence, the same alluring means by which the socialist Eurocrats have tried to get Europeans to surrender to the super-statism of the European community. And just as Brussels has forced low-tax European countries to raise their taxes to the European average or to expand their respective welfare states in the name of “fairness,” a “level playing field,” and “upward harmonization,” so too will the international trade governors and commissions be empowered to “upwardly harmonize,” internationalize, and otherwise usurp laws of American state governments.

1998 Ron Paul 103:10
The harmonization language in last year’s FDA reform bill constitutes a perfect example. Harmonization language in this bill has the Health and Human Services Secretary negotiating multilateral and bilateral international agreements to unify regulations in this country with those of others. The bill removes from the state governments the right to exercise their police powers under the tenth amendment to the constitution and, at the same time, creates or corporatist power elite board of directors to review medical devices and drugs for approval. This board, of course, is to be made up of “objective” industry experts appointed by national governments. Instead of the “national” variety, known as the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 (enacted for the “good reason” of protecting railroad consumers from exploitative railroad freight rates, only to be staffed by railroad attorneys who then used their positions to line the pockets of their respective railroads), we now have the same sham imposed upon worldwide consumers on an international scale soon to be staffed by heads of multilateral pharmaceutical corporations.

1998 Ron Paul 103:11
Lastly, critics of the bill convincingly argue that language within H.R. 2621 regarding “Foreign Investment” would establish new rights for foreign investors and corporations and new obligations for the United States. H.R. 2621 attempts to eliminate artificial or trade-distorting barriers to trade-related foreign investment by reducing or eliminating exceptions to the principle of national treatment; free the transfer of funds relating to investments; reduce or eliminate performance requirements and other unreasonable barriers to the establishment and operation of investments; seeks to establish standards for expropriation and compensation for expropriation, consistent with United States legal principles and practice; and provide meaningful procedures for resolving investment disputes. It is argued that H.R. 2621 will congressionally activate the nearly completed Multilateral Agreement on Investment which covers 29 countries and forbids countries from regulating investment or capital flows and would establish new rights for foreign investors and corporations and new obligations for the United States. The MAI requires governments to pay investors for any action that directly or indirectly has an equivalent effect of expropriation. The MAI would be enforceable through international tribunals similar to those of the World Trade Organization without the due process protections of the United States.

1998 Ron Paul 103:12
Because H.R. 2621 enacts an unconstitutional foreign policy procedure, furthers our nation down the internationally-managed (rather than free trade) path, sets general international economic policy objectives, re-authorizes “Trade Adjustment Assistance” welfare for workers who lose their jobs and for businesses which fail, potentially undermines U.S. sovereignty through MAI, and preserves the President’s executive authority to negotiate “side agreements.” As such, I must oppose the bill.

1998 Ron Paul 103:1 congressional approval probably should be capitalized: Congressional approval.

1998 Ron Paul 103:2 United States Trade representative probably should be capitalized: United States Trade Representative.

1998 Ron Paul 103:3 tenth amendment probably should be capitalized: Tenth Amendment.

1998 Ron Paul 103:3 itís powers is used in the possessive sense and not as a contraction for it is. As such, it should not have an apostrophe: its powers. Cf.: its enumerated powers in 1998 Ron Paul 103:4.

1998 Ron Paul 103:5 lake of a congressional role probably should be capitalized and read: lack of a Congressional role.

1998 Ron Paul 103:6 internationally-engineered probably should not be hyphenated: internationally engineered.

1998 Ron Paul 103:10 tenth amendment to the constitution probably should be capitalized: Tenth Amendment to the Constitution.

1998 Ron Paul 103:11 congressionally probably should be capitalized: Congressionally.

1998 Ron Paul 103:12 internationally-managed probably should not be hyphenated: internationally managed.

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