("Quid coniuratio est?")
THE MEXICAN RESCUE PACKAGE
[From The Congressional Record -- House, H1271-H1278, Feb. 6, 1995]
MR. SANDERS [continues]:
You are standing up from Oregon, you are standing up from Mississippi, you are standing up from Ohio, many of us are standing up and the people are saying, "What difference does it make? Thanks for standing up for us, but you don't have any power. We send you here to represent us but you can't do anything about it. Why do you want me to come out and vote for you or vote for anybody else?"
I think one of the other aspects about this agreement which disturbs me is not only the agreement itself, which we disagree with, but the process which denies the elected officials of this country to stand up and do what is best for their districts.
Mr. Speaker, I think the gentleman raises some excellent, excellent points. I know that there are working people across this country who feel that they have lost voice at the highest levels of our Government.
What is equally disturbing to think about, Mr. Speaker, is that for the people of Mexico who have no voice, the working people of Mexico who have no voice, if our Government, and I think they were in cahoots with the top leaders of Mexico, has now caused the standard of living in Mexico to be cut by half, and it wasn't very high anyway, there are people who are hungry and there are people who are streaming across our borders now because our Government was too greedy for some of the interests that supported it and some of the top leaders in the Government of the United States, then shame on us as the most powerful economic force on this continent.
I yield to the gentleman from Mississippi [Mr. Taylor], who wanted to make a comment.
MR. TAYLOR of Mississippi:
The only point I wanted to make, Mr. Speaker, and I wanted to get back as to the very eloquent delivery by the former mayor of Burlington, could he not just vote against the appropriation for this when it comes up?
If the gentleman knows, Mr. Speaker, if I had the opportunity to, I could and I would, but I do not have the opportunity. Unfortunately, as we have been discussing, we do not have that opportunity.
MR. TAYLOR of Mississippi:
Mr. Speaker, isn't it interesting that every group -- there are groups like the National Taxpayers Union, Common Cause, groups that represent the defense industry, groups that represent the homeless, everyone has a score card on how you voted. You hear the Nation has incurred at least a $20 billion liability and there was not even a vote on it, and there will not be a vote on it next year or the following year or the following year, unless something happens.
Mr. Speaker, I think the point all of us are trying to make, and maybe not saying as well as we can, is that the reason we need the information, the reason for the vote tomorrow morning, is that, No. 1, we find out just how far our liability goes with this; just what kind of assets, if any, the Mexicans have pledged. I have heard they pledged oil revenues that have already been pledged to pay other bills, so, therefore, they are really not available to get our money back. What kind of track record do the Mexicans have in paying things back? Where did this money come from?
Isn't it interesting, Mr. Speaker, that while everything comes before this body, from the amount of money we will have to mail letters home to our constituents, the amount of money we will spend on B-2 bombers, the amount of money we will spend on housing and urban development, the amount of money we will spend on veterans, all these things, sometimes much, much smaller amounts dealing in just tens of thousands of dollars, we will get an up-or-down vote on, but for $20 billion, neither the President of the United States nor the Speaker of the House nor the minority leader even thought we ought to have a vote. The only chance we get to rectify that starts tomorrow.
If the gentlewoman will yield further, Mr. Speaker, the gentleman makes a very important point. There almost seems to be an inverse relationship between the amount of money that is being spent and the level of discussion that takes place here.
We are seeing a whole lot of discussion on the National Council on the Humanities and Public Broadcasting, right? Every day, people are down here, some on one position, some on the other. It is a matter of a few hundred million dollars.
What we are talking about is more than $20 billion, and as of this moment, we do not have a vote on that, and that is clearly an outrage.
If the gentleman will continue to yield, Mr. Speaker, in an answer to the gentleman's earlier inquiry, there has not been a vote on an appropriation for the Economic Stabilization Fund since 1934, 60 years since an appropriation has been voted for, yet the fund has continued to garner money through Treasury withdrawals, through having money printed, and they exchange some sort of bizarre notes which they obtain from the International Monetary Fund. They give them to our Treasury in exchange for dollars which the Treasury orders printed at the Mint.
If you want to talk about creating something out of nothing but obligating the American people, and if Alan Greenspan is concerned about inflation, how about the inflation that is caused when you just run the presses overnight, running out whatever the largest denomination of bills is, I don't know, a thousand $10,000 bills, so we can shovel that money over to the Economic Stabilization Fund, so we can send it to Mexico, or so that we can secure the loans of Mexico?
Also, Mr. Speaker, the gentlewoman put together an excellent list in response to your query here. I have heard a little bit about this "We will guarantee these funds with the oil revenues." There is a list here put together by the gentlewoman from Ohio [Ms. Kaptur].
The gentleman is right, those funds are already 100 percent committed. In fact, they are so committed that the Mexican oil company has not been able to invest any money in exploration or maintenance, because their funds are so over committed already.
You go through the list: Pemex bonds, 7.75 percent; French francs, $750 million; Euro notes, Pemex, 8.375; $400 million, Austrian bond, dated July 23, 1993, due 1998. The list goes on and on and on. They are already well in hock for any oil they can pump until their supplies are exhausted, and we are going to take security out of this? You can't get blood out of a turnip.
If the gentleman will yield on that, Mr. Speaker, Oil and Gas magazine also reported about that by the end of this decade, by 1997, 1998, 1999, Mexico will be a net importer of oil because the number of barrels she has been able to produce has been cut in half, and because capital investment has not been able to be made in capital plant, and because of instability among the workers in the oilfields in Mexico, where conditions are just terrible.
Mr. Speaker, I think any wise investor would question that, oil being used as collateral.
If I might respond to the gentleman from Vermont [Mr. Sanders], who raised a good point, when it is a small item involving the budget, we get tied up in knots here, right?
When we are talking about $20 or $40 billion or however much the American people will be on the line, it is like the Stealth bomber. It goes through here, nobody saw it, we didn't vote on it. It happened, it is a happening in America, but we didn't have anything to do with it.
Mr. Speaker, I remember when the President came up here with his State of the Union speech. He didn't like the fact that the Department of Agriculture had spent a few thousand dollars trying to eliminate ticks. He spent a long time talking about ticks.
If you come from a rural area, a lot of my district is rural, that can be a pretty significant problem for people. In fact, we had one gentleman here in Congress, Berkeley Bedell, who had to leave Congress because he got Lyme disease. If you know anything about what can happen, it is a pretty serious area to be doing research on, so I didn't quite understand why he picked that particular few thousand dollar expenditure out.
Here we are talking about an enormous amount of money, and the gentleman from Mississippi [Mr. Taylor] said, "Could we vote on it in the Committee on Appropriations?"
I asked one of the subcommittee chairs of Appropriations, "Will this come up before your subcommittee this year? Will we get a vote? How will we get a vote on this?"
He said, "Well, you know, yes, the Treasury Department is under our sub-committee's jurisdiction, but this particular fund, I guess it is more like foreign aid, so we don't think it would come under us."
This is the kind of fund, it is like mercury. If you have ever seen mercury and you try to put your finger on it, it keeps moving around. You can't pin it down, really; $20 billion, maybe $40 billion, and it is rising every day.
So here we stand, at 9 o'clock at night Washington time, trying to say it is our responsibility to vote on this kind of money, and putting our taxpayers at this kind of risk.
I yield to the gentleman from Mississippi.
[...to be continued...]
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