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Public Statements

Withdrawing Approval of the United States from Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of our position to remove ourselves from the WTO. My economic position is somewhat different from some of my allies, because I come at it from a free trade position.

I happen to believe in minimum tariffs, if any, but I do not believe that the process of the WTO and world government is a good way to do it. I do not think the WTO achieves its purpose, and I do not think it is permissible under the Constitution. Therefore, I strongly argue the case that, through the process, that we should defend the position of the Congress which gives us the responsibility of dealing with international trade, with international foreign commerce. That is our responsibility. We cannot transfer that responsibility to the President, and we cannot transfer that responsibility t o an international government body.

Therefore, there are many of us who ally together to argue that case, although we may have a disagreement on how much tariffs we should have, because the Congress should decide that. We could have no tariffs; we could have a uniform tariff, which the Founders believed in and permitted; or we could have protective tariffs, which some of those individuals on our side defend, and I am not that much interested in. But the issue that unifies us is who should determine it. For me, the determination should be by the U.S. Congress and not to defer to an international government body.

Now this always bewilders me, when my conservative friends and those who believe in limited government are so anxious to deliver this to another giant international body. For instance, the WTO employs over 600 people. Free trade, if you are interested in free trade, all you have to do is write a sentence or two, and you can have free trade. You do not need 600 bureaucrats. It costs $133 million to manage the WTO every year. Of course, we pay the biggest sum, over $25 million for this, just to go and get permission or get our instructions from the WTO.

We all know that we raised taxes not too long ago, not because the American people rose up and called their Congressmen and said we wanted you to repeal this tax and change the taxes. It was done in order to be an upstanding member of the WTO. We responded and took instructions from the WTO and adapted our tax policy to what they desired.

On e other issue that I think those who defend the WTO and call themselves free traders ought to recognize is that when we concede the fact that there should be a trade-off, it means they really do not believe in free trade. If you believe in free trade and the people have the right to spend their money the way they want, it would be as simple as that. It would benefit that country, because you could get your goods and services cheaper.

But this whole concession to the management of trade through the WTO s ays, all right, we are going to do this if you do this, and it acknowledges the fact that free trade does not work unless you get something for it. That may be appealing to some, but a free trader should not argue that way. Because free trade, if it is a benefit, it is simply a benefit.

In the 1990s when the WTO was originally passed, the former Speaker of the House made a statement about this. I want to quote from him. This is from Newt Gingrich. He was talking about the WTO: "I am just saying that we need to be honest about the fact that we are transferring from the United States at a practical level significant authority to a new organization. This is a transformational moment. I would feel better if the people who favor this would be honest about the scale of change. This is not just another trade agreement. This is adopting something which twice, once in the 1940s and once in the 1950s, the U.S. Congress rejected. I am not even saying that we should reject it. I, in fact, lean toward it. But I think we have to be very careful, because it is a very big transfer of power."

I agree with Newt Gingrich on this. It was a huge transfer of power. I happen to believe it was an unconstitutional transfer of power; and, therefore, we are now suffering the consequences because we have lost prerogatives and control of our own trade policy.

Now the President of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a free market think tank, from Auburn, Alabma said, "The World Trade Organization is supposed to be the grea t apparatus to push the world to greater economic integration. In reality, it was nothing but the resurrection of the old central planning fallacy that the world needs a central authority to manage it. The WTO has ended up politicizing trade by putting the stamp of officialdom on some very bad policy."

So my message is to appeal to those who believe in limited government, free markets, free trade and the Constitution. I appeal to those who want to use tariffs in a protective way because they defend the process. But I am really appealing to the conservatives who claim they believe in free trade, because I do not believe what we have here is truly free trade.
The WTO has already been able to influence our tax laws. Not too long ago, Utah repealed a ban on electronic gambling for fear the WTO would come in and find that violated free trade.

Another area of importance to so many of us, both on the left and the right of the political spectrum, has to do with the Codex Commission regulation set up by t he United Nations. How much regulation are we going to have on vitamins and nutrition products? The UN already indicated the type of regulation. Guess who may, most likely, be the enforcer of these regulations? It will be the WTO. The Europeans have much stricter regulations. This means that some day the WTO may well come to us and regulate the distribution of vitamins and nutritional supplements in this country, something that I do not think we should even contemplate. The case can be made that if they hav e already pressured us to do things, they may well do it once again.

Our administration is not too interested in the Kyoto Protocol, but that may well come down the road, and the enforcement of the Kyoto Protocol many believe will be enforced by the WTO.

So this is big government, pure and simple. It does not endorse free trade whatsoever. It endorses managed trade; and too often it is managed for the privileges of the very large, well-positioned companies. It does not recognize the basic principle that we should defend as a free society individuals ought to have the right to spend their money the way they want. That is what free trade is, and you can do that unilaterally without pain and suffering.

So I ask Members to consider, why should we not reclaim some of our prerogatives, our authorities, our responsibility? We have given up too much over the years. We have clearly given up our prerogatives on the declaration of war, and on monetary issues. That has been given away by the Congress. And her e it is on the trade issue.

I can remember an ad put out in the 1990s when the WTO was being promoted and they talked directly, it was a full page ad, I believe, in the New York Times. They said, "This is the third leg of the new world order." We had the World Bank, we had the IMF, and now we had the World Trade Organization.

So if you are a believer in big government and world government and you believe in giving up the prerogatives of the Congress and not assuming our responsibility, I would say , go with the WTO. But if you believe in freedom, if you believe in the Constitution and if you really believe in free trade, I would say we should vote to get out of the WTO.

Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that my remaining time be allotted to the gentleman from Vermont (Mr. Sanders) and that he be able to control that time.



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