by Patrick J. Buchanan – August 4, 1998
Before Congress adjourns, yet another test of strength is coming between the disciples of globalism and the forces of a resurgent U.S. patriotism. The issue is “fast track,” a bill to strip Congress of all authority to amend trade treaties.
Under fast track, once the Clintonites negotiate a trade deal, Congress has only a choice of rubber stamps: “Yes” or “No.”
Is the Republican Congress digging in to resist this assault on its constitutional authority? To the contrary, House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott are heading up the fight to surrender Congress’ rights. Such is the hold of the free-trade cult on the GOP. Such is the grip of the corporate elite on the carotid arteries of Beltway Republicans.
What the globalists desire, above all else, is an absolute end to any political interference with their right to trade, invest, relocate and outsource anywhere on Earth. Corporate interests are to come before such silly and antiquated notions as the U.S. national interest.
On its face alone, fast track should be laughed out of Congress. For consider the Clinton negotiating record Newt wishes to reward:
The latest diplomatic trophy the Clinton team brought home was the Kyoto treaty on global warming. If its provisions for slashing U.S. consumption of fossil fuels were to be adopted, it would kick off a second Great Depression. Even Democrats were shaken by the mess Prince Albert & Friends brought home from Japan.
But the Clinton record on trade makes Kyoto look like a coup. Since 1992, our trade deficit with Beijing has shot up to $50 billion a year. Our merchandise trade deficit has reached the astronomical annual rate of $274 billion. Manufactured imports now equal 53 percent of U.S. production. Post-NAFTA, our trade deficit with Canada and Mexico has soared to $40 billion a year, and our exports to Asia are now falling every month. Does this record justify a congressional surrender of all authority over trade treaties to Bill Clinton?
What has become of the party of Theodore Roosevelt and Robert Taft, of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, that just to grease the wheels of global commerce, a Republican speaker would surrender congressional powers our first speaker, James Madison, enshrined in the Constitution itself?
Is it all that soft money that produces all these soft heads?
Republicans claim that other nations will not negotiate deals with U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky if they know the terms can be altered by Congress. This is absurd. The United States has an $8.4 trillion economy, the greatest market in history. Our trade deficits provide the hard-currency reserves for regimes all over the world. Do we really have to shred the Constitution to persuade Asia and Latin America to trade with us?
America became the greatest trading nation in history before fast track was invented, and if a demand for Congress’ surrender of its constitutional powers is the price of a trade deal, kill the deal, get up and walk away from the table. Can one imagine how United States Sens. Henry Clay, Daniel Webster and John C. Calhoun would have responded to foreign demands that Congress give up its right to amend trade treaties before they would negotiate?
Did conservatives really work for 40 years to elect a Congress so it could begin a unilateral surrender of powers to Bill Clinton?
So, it would seem. First, Congress sat mute while Clinton put 20,000 troops in Bosnia. Then, it gave him a line-item veto over all appropriations bill. An appalled Supreme Court had to intervene to retrieve Congress’ surrendered powers, which it had no right to give away. Congress, it would seem, does not want power, for now, it is voting to give up its franchise over trade.
What does it want to keep — constituent service?
Populists of all parties should unite to inflict on the trade-uber-alles crowd a September defeat it will never forget.
Trade today is about more than commerce. The North American Free Trade Agreement and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade treaty of 1994 involved surrenders of U.S. national sovereignty to supra-national institutions. Our dependency on imports has reached levels unseen since the mid-18th century, levels that would have stunned the men who sacrificed for decades to achieve economic independence for the United States. For the first time in history, there are a million fewer American workers in manufacturing than in government. We are not only a service economy; we are becoming a “service country.”
Defeat of the free-trade cultists on fast track is a matter that is above party. They scheduled this fight; now, let’s get it on.