("Quid coniuratio est?")
THE MEXICAN RESCUE PACKAGE
[From The Congressional Record -- House, H1271-H1278, Feb. 6, 1995]
If the gentleman will yield, what has been very interesting is if you look back over the decade of the 1980s, this fund was used every once in a while, especially around the 1982 Presidential elections in Mexico, to prop up that Government. There were loans made from this fund, $500 million, $1 billion. Then you went up to 1988 when there was another Presidential election in Mexico, and they used $1.1 or $1.2 billion out of the funds to prop up the existing Government there.
Now the Presidential elections of this past August 1994: The fund was used again over these numbers of years. Mexico has never really paid back its money. It has refinanced its debt, which is getting larger and larger and larger.
That is like if you had a credit card and you never paid the principal and you just kept adding more and more debt and then you were charged a higher interest rate.
MR. TAYLOR of Mississippi:
So if you would explain to the Members who might still be watching, what is it that you are trying to accomplish tomorrow?
What we are trying to accomplish tomorrow is to give the 435 Members of this House a chance to vote against the Mexican rescue package. We have essentially been muzzled. The executive branch, in conjunction with the leadership of this institution, went around the other 434 Members of the Congress of the United States.
We want our chance to vote.
Mr. Speaker, if the gentlewoman will continue to yield, I would like to clarify, I think that we do not even have to characterize it in exactly that fashion. We are asking the basic questions regarding the extension of these credits to Mexico. How much money is involved? What risks are there for the U.S. taxpayer? And the series of interrogatories, someone could vote in support of our resolution tomorrow, not having made up their mind but saying as a representative of the people they need more information.
So I would say that the Members who would support our resolution would be both Members who already feel that they have enough information to say no to the bailout for Mexico, but I would say for the other Members of this body, I cannot imagine that any single person in this body who has not had those questions answered could vote in support of it.
I can see where you could still have an open mind and say, I would like to know what risks we have, how much it is costing, what the terms are, what our exposure is. But we do not have that. So I would characterize the vote tomorrow a little differently.
The gentleman is correct. If one reads the resolution, it asks for us to have the constitutional authority retained here as we would hope we could tomorrow, and then it asks the Comptroller General to report back on the specifics of the package that was negotiated by the administration. I think the gentleman from Mississippi would like to comment.
MR. TAYLOR of Mississippi:
I wanted to get back to something the gentleman from Vermont mentioned, when he said that Wall Street was all in favor of NAFTA and Wall Street was all in favor of the bailout.
In fact, former U.S. Trade Representative, Ms. Carla Hills, who used to come regularly up to Congress and tell us what a great deal NAFTA was, has written an article for the Washington Post saying we have to bail out these poor people.
It was funny that just 1.5 years ago, when Ms. Hills came before the Merchant Marine Committee and I brought to her attention that a lot of shrimpers in the gulf coast, a lot of people in the garment plants would probably lose their jobs as a result of NAFTA, she said, "that is economic Darwinism. You just have to have some people who are going to suffer when things like this happen, but it is for the benefit of everybody that this happens."
Would someone explain the wisdom to me why it is O.K. to let somebody who makes $5.50 an hour working at a sewing machine all day lose their job, but when some Wall Street investor loses a couple of bucks on his investments down in Mexico, or maybe a lot more than a couple bucks, that it suddenly becomes the responsibility of the working people of this country, the very same working people that you may have put out of work to bail them out, to go on the line and cosign that loan? And above all, why is it right that this huge expenditure, the equivalent of the Veterans Administration budget, is being made available for the President alone to spend and the Congress of the United States, which is given the constitutional duty, not privilege but the constitutional duty to see how our money is spent, what kind of debts we incur, where is the Speaker? Where is the minority leader? Is this not crazy that neither party's head is demanding a vote on this and that 6, 7, 12 Members have to be the ones to come forward and, by using the rules of the House, demand a vote on this? It is just not right.
It is interesting, because I come from the Midwest, midwestern part of our country, as did the gentleman from Ohio, Congressman Brown, who has joined us, the gentleman from Vermont, Congressman Sanders, comes from the northeast, the gentleman comes from the Deep South in Mississippi, the gentleman from Oregon, Mr. DeFazio, it has been very interesting to me to see the breadth of support inside this institution on this issue.
MR. TAYLOR of Mississippi:
If I may interrupt, on both sides of the aisle.
On both sides of the aisle.
MR. TAYLOR of Mississippi:
There are, I believe as many Republican sponsors of this resolution as Democrats. I think that is very important, because I think a number of the Republicans are at odds with what their leadership has done, which is, again, to deprive the majority of the Members of this body just expressing this sentiment, yes or no, this is a tremendous obligation.
I know it is more than three times the State budget for a whole year of my home State.
If the gentlewoman would yield further, I was talking to a freshman Republican Member today, and that freshman stated unequivocally that they had done a whip of their own group and there were 3 Members of the 73-Member Republican freshman class who were prepared or leaning toward voting for the bailout of Mexico.
So I think what has happened here is the leaders on both sides can count, and they did count. When they counted, they found probably out of this entire institution, the representatives of the people of the United States of America, duly elected and all equal under the Constitution, that probably less than 100 were willing to vote for this bailout.
Now I guess what we are being told is we just do not know, we just do not know the facts. Well, then, give us the facts. That is what we are asking here. If there are facts that would change my mind, bring them forward. But there is an absence of fact and we are being treated as though we, as elected representatives of the people, well, we just do not know better. This is something that the big folks on Wall Street, the Federal Reserve decided in secret, Robin Rubin, managing director of Goldman, Sachs and the President behind closed doors, and public discussion is foreclosed and votes of the people are prohibited.
My friend from Oregon is exactly right, as is my friend from Mississippi.
My friend from Mississippi makes an interesting point, if he will allow me to amplify his statement a little bit, that all over this country there are people who work for $5 an hour and $6 an hour and $8 an hour. And they go to work every day and many of them do not have any health insurance, and we are told that the Government does not have the money to provide health insurance. Their jobs are uprooted and taken to Mexico or to China and we are told, "Hey, that is the way life goes, that is what the market system is about, no security, you are out on the street." They pay unfairly too much in taxes, that is the way the system goes.
And nobody is hearing their pain. And then suddenly our friends from Wall Street, who by the way, let us be honest about this, in the last few years have made out like bandits in their investments in Mexico. In the city of Burlington, Vermont, people put their money in the savings bank to make 3 percent, 4 percent, 5 percent, safe investment; in Mexico people were making 50 percent, people were making 100 percent of their investments. And then suddenly, for reasons that we do not fully know, we know some of them, the economy of Mexico took a tumble and their investments went sour.
And how amazing it is, and I remember this when I was mayor of the city of Burlington, it was not the poor people and the working people who came into my office to ask for help. It was always the powerful and the wealthy who tell us, "What can you do for us?" and they are back again. These people who have the money, who have made out like bandits, have suddenly taken a loss.
Well, when you invest in a risky proposition, that is the nature of the game, is it not? You stand to win a lot if things go well, you stand to lose if things go badly.
I absolutely agree with my friend from Mississippi that it is an outrage to go back to the working people in this country, some of them who have lost their jobs from these very same folks who have taken their plants to Mexico, and then to ask working people of America to bail them out.
To pick up on the point from my friend from Oregon, what makes me really sad is not only the horror of this whole agreement, but in fact as a result of it there will be even more people giving up on the democratic process. We just had an election recently and 62 percent of the people did not come out to vote. They no longer believe that the Government of the United States represents their interests. What do you think this action on the part of the President is going to do to the political process?
[...to be continued...]
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