Speeches And Statements


February 28, 2003

The Financial Services Committee's Terrible Blueprint for 2004

Supporters of limited, constitutional government and free markets will find little, if anything, to view favorably in the Financial Services Committee’s “Views and Estimates for Fiscal Year 2004.”  Almost every policy endorsed in this document is unconstitutional and a threat to the liberty and prosperity of the American people.

For example, this document gives an unqualified endorsement to increased taxpayer support for the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN). According to the committee, these increased funds are justified by FINCEN’s new authority under the PATRIOT Act. However, Mr. Chairman, FINCEN’s power to snoop into the private financial affairs of American citizens raises serious constitutional issues. Whether the expansion of FINCEN’s power threatens civil liberties is ignored in this document; instead, the committee is concerned that the federal financial police state does not have enough power and taxpayer money to invade the privacy of United States citizens!

The committee shows complete disregard for the American taxpayer and the United Sates Constitution by embracing increases in foreign aid. Congress has neither constitutional nor moral authority to take money from the American people and send it overseas. Furthermore, foreign aid rarely improves the standard of living of the citizens of the “beneficiary” countries. Instead, the aid all too often enriches corrupt politicians and helps stave off pressure for real reform. Furthermore, certain proposals embraced by the committee smack of economic imperialism, suggesting that if a country’s economic and other policies please American politicians and bureaucrats, they will be rewarded with money stolen from American taxpayers.

The committee also expresses unqualified support for programs such as the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im), which use taxpayer dollars to subsidize large multinational corporations.  Ex-Im exists to subsidize corporations that are quite capable of paying the costs of their own export programs! Ex-Im also provides taxpayer funding for export programs that would never obtain funding in the private market. As Austrian economists Ludwig Von Mises and F.A. Hayek demonstrated, one of the purposes of the market is to determine the highest value of resources. Thus, the failure of a project to receive funding through the free market means the resources that could have gone to that project have a higher-valued use. Government programs that take funds from the private sector and use them to fund projects that cannot get market funding reduce economic efficiency and lower living standards.  Yet Ex-Im actually brags about its support for projects rejected by the market!

Finally, the committee’s views support expanding the domestic welfare state, particularly in the area of housing. This despite the fact that federal housing subsidies distort the housing market by taking capital that could be better used elsewhere, and applying it to housing at the direction of politicians and bureaucrats. Housing subsidies also violate the constitutional prohibitions against redistributionism. The federal government has no constitutional authority to abuse its taxing power to fund programs that reshape the housing market to the liking of politicians and bureaucrats.

Rather than embracing an agenda of expanded statism, I hope my colleagues will work to reduce government interference in the market that only benefits the politically powerful. For example, the committee could take a major step toward ending corporate welfare by holding hearings and a mark-up on my legislation to withdraw the United States from the Bretton Woods Agreement and end taxpayer support for the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The Financial Services Committee can also take a step toward restoring Congress’ constitutional role in monetary policy by passing legislation requiring congressional approval before the federal government buys or sells gold.

Perhaps the most disappointing omission from the committee’s views is the failure to address monetary policy. This is especially troubling given that many Americans have lost their jobs, while millions of others have seen severe declines in their net worth, because of the Federal Reserve’s continuing boom and bust monetary policy. It is long past time for Congress to examine seriously the need for reform of the system of fiat currency that is responsible for the cycle of booms and busts that plague the American economy.  Until this committee addresses those issues, I am afraid the American economy may suffer more recessions or even depressions in the future.

In conclusion, the “Views and Estimates” presented by the Financial Services Committee endorse increasing the power of the federal police state, as well as increasing both international and corporate welfare, while ignoring the economic problems created by federal intervention into the economy. I therefore urge my colleagues to reject this document and instead embrace an agenda of ending federal corporate welfare, protecting financial privacy, and reforming the fiat money system that is the root cause of America’s economic instability.