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April 2005   Spivey
Trade Agreements: Origins & Tactics By Phyllis Spivey


By Phyllis Spivey

If your eyes glaze over at the mention of trade agreements, think about the outflow of U.S. jobs and the inflow of Third World illegals and how your tax dollars subsidize it all. Many citizens realize the country is changing for the worse, but few understand the role played by international trade agreements. Even fewer know how we got them.

The United States has signed numerous trade agreements since the early 1990's, but two of them deserve special scrutiny: the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), approved by Congress in 1993, and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) Uruguay Round , approved by Congress in 1994. Although Bill Clinton was president, both agreements passed into law through the efforts and with the blessings of Republicans as well as Democrats.

But America has always traded with other countries, you say. What’s different about these trade agreements?

The Constitution of 1787 gave Congress exclusive power to regulate commerce between the states and foreign countries. In general, it was a system of free trade between the states with tariffs – for revenue and to encourage or protect certain industries – imposed on foreign imports. Congress retained that power until 1934, when it enacted "The Trade Agreements Act" and relinquished constitutional prerogatives to the president, then Franklin Roosevelt.

The landmark legislation, initially passed as a temporary measure, then repeatedly renewed, essentially ended the trading system established by our Founding Fathers and put the U.S. on the path to NAFTA, GATT and other modern trade accords.

Who is the "father" of the 1934 trade program? Roosevelt’s secretary of state, Cordell Hull, also known as the "father of the United Nations." Noted as well for his tax legislation, which included the 1913 Federal Income Tax Law, Hull later received acclaim for his role in the Bretton Woods and Dumbarton Oakes conferences that led to the original GATT in 1946.

Thus, when so-called free traders tout the virtues of NAFTA and GATT, they celebrate the achievements of international socialist Hull and further his globalist ambitions According to Dr. Alfred Eckes, Chairman of the U.S. International Trade Commission under President Ronald Reagan, it wasn’t until after World War II that the Republican Party embraced the Democrats’ trade philosophy.

Given the origins of NAFTA and GATT, it should come as no surprise that both trade pacts ceded control of U.S. trade policies to international bodies. GATT established the 125-member World Trade Organization (WTO) and gave the U.S. one vote and no veto. The European Community got 12 votes, and so-called developing countries comprised 83 percent of the membership. NAFTA, between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, established the Trilateral Trade Commission and also gave the U.S. one vote.

Both agreements – due to court rulings and constitutional provisions -- preempt existing U.S. laws and supercede state laws through an ongoing process of regulating, i.e., legislating, by an army of unelected, unaccountable international bureaucrats. Moreover, the pacts authorize the U.S. president to selectively adjust duties, quotas, and tariffs – effectively vesting him with life-and-death power over entire industries.

Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution states that Congress – not the president -- shall have the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations. Article II, Section 2 requires that treaties be approved by two-thirds of the Senate. Both provisions were unacceptably "inconvenient" to NAFTA and GATT zealots.

Accordingly, Clinton and congressional leaders agreed to bypass both constitutional mandates and handle NAFTA and GATT as executive agreements, a tactic often employed by Franklin Roosevelt, since they require only a majority vote for approval. But even then, GATT’s passage was in doubt, so the pact was held until just after the 94 elections. It was then put before a lame duck Congress with 90 outgoing members who would not face constituent outrage.

It gets worse. In an outrageous abdication of constitutional responsibility, Congress delivered NAFTA and GATT to the Clinton Administration under a process known as "fast track." It works like this: Congress delegates its negotiating authority to the President; the President hands Congress a finished legislative package; Congress addresses it with an up or down majority vote, makes no amendments, and allows its members only limited discussion.

The Senate knocked down another hurdle, dutifully waiving its own budget deficit law to accommodate the billions of lost revenue projected for the U.S. under GATT. But why not? Political leaders had already shown themselves willing to diminish the role of Congress, circumvent the Constitution, and deceive the American people to impose globalist trade policies upon them.

With future agreements pending, Clinton tried to get "fast track" extended, but failed. It took President George Bush and intense big-business lobbying to get it through Congress in 2002. A group that served on the Steering Committee of the USTrade coalition, the Council of the Americas, congratulated its members on the passage of the legislation – now called Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) – in an August 2002 letter.

"Thank you and congratulations." the letter said, "to the many Council member companies and individuals who have worked tirelessly with us over the last eighteen months for the bill’s passage. Thanks especially to all of you who have taken part in the Council’s numerous meetings with members of Congress and our other efforts throughout this campaign"

According to the Council’s letter, the renewal of TPA "clears the way for progress on a number of outstanding trade initiatives, including the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement, a U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), and a new round of global trade talks in the World Trade Organization."

The Council’s honorary chairman? David Rockefeller. Council board members included executives from Archer Daniels Midland, Bank of America, Bear Stearns & Company, Chevron Texaco, Citigroup, Mc Donald’s, Merk & Co., Pfizer, General Electric, General Motors, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Kissinger McLarty Associates, Time Warner, and other transnational corporations. Representatives of Boeing, Caterpillar and Procter & Gamble, also council members, served as co-chairmen of USTrade.

Today, the same coalitions stand ready to push CAFTA, then the FTAA, into operation, in the process creating a European-Union-style, borderless hemisphere of nearly 900,000,000 people. Where does your Congressman stand?