("Quid coniuratio est?")
THE MEXICAN RESCUE PACKAGE
[From The Congressional Record -- House, H1271-H1278, Feb. 6, 1995]
MR. TAYLOR of Mississippi:
Again, Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that in the past couple of weeks this chamber has taken some steps toward getting our financial house in order.
Regardless of where you stand on it, the House has passed a line- item veto. The Speaker as we speak is holding a press conference bragging about how that is somehow going to save the House of Representatives from itself, but we passed it.
A few weeks ago we passed the balanced budget amendment, which I supported, because I think we have to be accountable. We passed earlier on the first day a resolution calling for an audit of every single House office and every single budget within the House of Representatives.
But going back to what Mr. Sanders says, if it makes sense and the Speaker will support an audit for a congressional office that has a budget of about $600,000, don't you think he would support an audit of a fund that has $35 billion in it; we think $35 billion, because no one really knows for sure, and it is the taxpayers' money. It is not the Speaker's money, it is not the money of the gentleman from Vermont [Mr. Sanders], and it is certainly not my money.
But don't the taxpayers deserve to know where it came from, where it is going, and don't they deserve an up-or-down vote of their elected representative on how this money ought to be spent, especially when our Nation's veterans are being told, "There is not enough room in the military hospitals for you;" especially when every university within short order in the continental United States is going to get a letter saying "Don't ask for as much money as you got last year, money is tight;" especially when highway funds are getting ready to get cuts; especially when everybody's State's budget, at least the money they receive from the Federal Government, is going to get cut?
How on Earth can we say domestically we want all you people to share in the pain, but if you are south of the Rio Grande, or if you happen to be a big shot up on Wall Street, here is a blank check for $20 billion, and here is $15 billion more when you need it? And the vote tomorrow morning is the only chance the people in this body are going to get to have an accounting on that.
I hope the Speaker will rule that this resolution is in order. But if he does not rule it is in order, then we have got to wonder whose side is he on. Is he on the side of accountability or is he on the side of hiding all of this from the public?
I had an interesting call today from an Under Secretary of the Treasury, and he will meet with a number of us tomorrow morning. Interestingly enough, he said, "You know, I can't give you all that information publicly." Why? I can understand a military secret being kept from the public, we would not want our enemies to know our capabilities of our weapons or troop strengths, but why should not the public know how their money has been invested and where it has been invested and what kind of return they have on it, and what kind of promise we have to get this money back? That troubles me. That is sort of like the old Washington mentality, "We know it all and those folks back home don't know."
Tomorrow morning, the Members of this body will decide who they are with, whether they think the people of America are smart enough to know and ought to know where their money is coming from, and where it is going, or whether they just think a couple of guys, the Speaker, the President, the minority leader, a couple of guys from the Treasury Department, whether they think they alone ought to have the responsibility for $35 billion. That is really what the vote tomorrow morning is all about.
No. 1, I would certainly encourage the Speaker to rule that this resolution is in order so that we can have a vote on it. But, No. 2, if he decides that he will not rule it in order, then I think he ought to at least be man enough to give us an hour to decide, to make our pitch in front of the full body before any sort of a motion is made to table it [i.e. kill it], because the people of America deserve to know what in the heck is going on, and they deserve an opportunity to fix this problem.
I want to thank the gentlewoman and both gentlemen for their time.
I want to thank the gentleman from Mississippi for being the lead sponsor of this privileged resolution. The people of Mississippi should be very proud of the gentleman, an independent, strong- minded Member who stood up to the most powerful interests in America, both political and economic.
In response to something the gentleman said, let me just mention that I received a letter this week from a woman from Coral Gables, Florida. She supports us in our efforts to get a vote on this measure tomorrow. She sent this beautiful letter really saying the people of America understand what is going on and encouraging us in our efforts to get at the truth and to get the figures for the American public.
But it was very interesting. She attached a letter to her letter to me that had been written to her by the Chairman of the Banking Committee in the House 2 years ago, Congressman Henry Gonzalez. In this letter, and she even highlighted it in yellow ink for me, she quotes some of his statements which I think are so instructive I wanted to read them tonight, in which he said that during NAFTA, the NAFTA debate, that he endeavored to bring out that NAFTA was more than just a trade agreement. It is a free trade and finance agreement. And he underlined finance. And he was concerned that the finance and banking portions would turn out to be the driving force, backed by the largest banks and financial interests in this hemisphere. And he said NAFTA will have profound implications for the safety and soundness of the U.S. banking and financial services industries, the integrity of the basic banking laws of this country and counteraction against international money laundering.
Now that NAFTA has passed he said the stage may also be set for another savings and loan style bailout as United States bankers pursue risky investments in the unregulated Mexican market.
To his letter he then attached even more lengthy hearings that he has held in his committee. I just want to read one paragraph here by two gentlemen, Mr. Niko Valance and Mr. Andres Penaloza, who testified before his committee that the omission of an exchange rate stabilization mechanism in NAFTA was deliberate and a mistake. Mr. Valance argued that without an established exchange rate, stabilization mechanism, it is possible for foreign corporations to exert pressure on the Mexican Government to devalue the peso, thus lowering wages in terms of other currencies.
In addition, Mr. Davidson cautions that the relatively volatile currency in Mexico poses increased potential exchange and interest rate risks to U.S. financial institutions. The fact that these issues are not addressed in NAFTA was of considerable concern to many of the witnesses.
If the gentlewoman will yield, it is interesting to hear those statements from 2 years ago, because we have heard most recently from the proponents of NAFTA, the apologists for NAFTA, the Secretary of the Treasury and others, that no one could have anticipated the circumstances. But yet the gentlewoman is saying that letter from the chairman of the Banking Committee, a neighbor to Mexico who lives just over the border, who understands that country well and is sympathetic to the needs of that country, he discerned these problems. What was the date on that letter?
The date on the letter was December 6, 1993, but the respective sections from the Congressional Record were dated November 15, 1993, remarks by Mr. Gonzalez on NAFTA, page H9661.
That is absolutely extraordinary. So perhaps a rational person could have anticipated that the peso was overvalued, that there were problems with political manipulations of the currency values in Mexico, and, in fact, that inextricably tying the fate of our economy to Mexico, which seems to be what our administration is telling us, was a mistake.
I would ask the gentlewoman if she noticed the statement in the Washington Post last weekend where the Speaker said there was a relationship between the minimum wage and the value of the peso in Mexico and Mexican workers, and said he was hesitant to support an increase in the minimum wage in the United States of America for people who work in this country because that would probably drive more jobs across the border.
So we have seen the value of the wages in Mexico, which were pitiful to begin with compared to U.S. wages, dropped by 50 percent, and now we have to withhold any increase in the standard of living for the people of the United States because we might lose yet more manufacturing jobs to Mexico.
What happened to the promise of hundreds of thousands of jobs in America as we sold goods to the Mexican people? I am puzzled.
[...to be continued...]
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