Obama's $845 Billion Earmark for the United Nations Lays the Groundwork for a Global Tax
By Cliff Kincaid
Some of the politicians on Capitol Hill regularly and sometimes secretly attach costly "earmarks" to bills to benefit special interests. Since Senator John McCain says he wants to eliminate those earmarks, he should start with the Barack Obama bill, the Global Poverty Act (S. 2344), which itself is a vastly expanded form of earmark. It commits the U.S. to spending $845 billion to eradicate poverty in the rest of the world. McCain could vote on the bill fairly soon because it could come up for a full Senate vote at any time. Where does he stand on it?
Like earmarks, which are inserted into bills and congressional conference reports, the Global Poverty Act passed the House and a key Senate committee without any hearings being held into it. What's more, no recorded vote was held in either body. It had very little support in either body until somebody decided that it had to be pushed at this time. So, last September 25, it passed the House-by voice vote-and on February 13 the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed it-also by voice vote. (The bill had only 84 co-sponsors in the House and nine co-sponsors in the Senate).
In the House, according to the office of Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the sponsor, it was considered non-controversial because some Republicans were backing it.
My suspicion is that it is being pushed through the Senate right now in order to give Obama a legislative victory. Obama, after all, has only been in the Senate since 2004. He has cast some votes, but his legislative actions and accomplishments are not considered impressive. But the Global Poverty Act is his vehicle; he was the sponsor in the Senate. Passage through Congress-and even a signing of the bill by President Bush-could make this political rock star look like another Bono. As president, Obama himself could implement it. What an amazing coincidence!
Passage of this bill might even make Michelle Obama proud of her country once again.
The major media have failed to report on the nature of the bill, probably because they think it could benefit Obama, one of their favorites.
It's important to note that the price tag doesn't appear in the bill. But this doesn't mean it does not commit us to spend $845 billion. This is one of the most deceptive pieces of legislation I have come across in my 30 years in Washington. A serious analysis of the bill discloses not only the price tag, which can be ascertained through reading the documents and statements of the U.N. and its mouthpieces, but the fact that it subordinates a key aspect of U.S. foreign policy-foreign aid spending-to
Obama has been busy on the campaign trail racking up victories against Senator Hillary Clinton, but the office of Rep. Adam Smith, the sponsor of the Global Poverty Act in the other body, has been busy complaining about my coverage of this matter."I believe you have some fact errors in your story," said Derrick Crowe, Smith's communications director.
Let's deal with some of the claims made by those supporting the bill.
First, the claim is made that the bill merely reorganizes offices and agencies of the executive branch into an effective global poverty fighting force. If that is the case, however, why does the bill have several references to fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations? Why is there any reference in the bill to the U.N. if this is merely a domestic housekeeping matter?
The claim is also made that there are absolutely no new spending commitments or mandates in this bill. This is a funny claim to make because the bill itself speaks of "the need for increased financial and technical assistance to countries burdened by extreme poverty..." and demands improvements in "the effectiveness of development assistance and making available additional overall United States assistance levels as appropriate." Why are there references to spending money if that is not the purpose of the bill? And what does "as appropriate" mean?
The bill requires the president to devise a "comprehensive strategy" to meet U.N. demands for nations to meet the so-called Millennium Development Goals. It says this strategy must include "specific and measurable goals, efforts to be undertaken, benchmarks, and timetables..."
It is true that these specific details are not explicitly defined in the bill. That is part of the legislative deception. In order to understand what the president must do, the executive branch would have to take into account the nature of the Millennium Goals and U.N. documents associated with them. You can be sure that the U.S. Department of State has a complete understanding of what all of this means, even if some of the politicians on Capitol Hill do not. As someone who has been covering U.N. conferences for many years, it made complete sense to me.
The bill does not attach a dollar figure-and does not need to-because that is contained in the 2002 so-called "Monterrey Consensus," which grew out of the 2000 Millennium Declaration, which is cited in the bill. Understanding this critical fact is a simple matter of reading the appropriate U.N. documents. The sponsors could count on the major media not to do so.
Here's where the issue gets fairly complicated. Congressional hearings could have made all of this clear if they would have been held. But they were not. And that is shameful on the part of Congress.
The Millennium Declaration, which was issued in 2000, specifically called for a "Financing for Development" conference, which was held in 2002 in Monterrey, Mexico, and produced the"Monterrey Consensus." I was in Monterrey at the time covering this event. The whole purpose of this event was to force countries to spend more money on foreign aid.
The "Monterrey Consensus" document coming out of the conference committed nations to spending 0.7 percent of Gross National Product (GNP) on official development assistance (ODA), otherwise known as foreign aid. It says, specifically, that "We recognize that a substantial increase in ODA and other resources will be required if developing countries are to achieve the internationally agreed development goals and objectives, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration." It then goes on to call for "concrete efforts towards the target of 0.7 percent" of GNP as ODA. It also proposes "innovative sources of finance" to pay for the increased foreign aid. That is a reference to global taxes, as I have documented on numerous occasions.
All of this is necessary to understand the basis for and the nature of the Global Poverty Act. But there's more.
Jeffrey Sachs, who ran the U.N.'s "Millennium Project," which monitors compliance with and progress toward these goals, says that the U.N. plan to force the U.S. to pay 0.7 percent of GNP in increased foreign aid spending would add $65 billion a year to what the U.S. already spends. "We are short by $65 billion each year, which may seem like a vast sum, but it represents just 0.5% of our GNP," says Sachs.
Over a 13-year period, from 2002, when the U.N.'s Financing for Development conference was held, to the target year of 2015, when the U.S. is expected to meet the Millennium Development Goals, this amounts to $845 billion. And the only way to raise that kind of money, Sachs wrote, is through a global tax, preferably on carbon-emitting fossil fuels. This is entirely consistent with and even mandated by the Millennium Declaration, which proposes "innovative sources of finance" to pay for it. A global tax is inevitable, even predictable, in order to pay for the bill.
Another idea is for a "global inequality tax" to fight poverty.
Economist Branco Milanovic declares, "Global redistribution through taxes that would be levied by an international body may seem far-fetched today, but the logic of development that we are witnessing – particularly the move away from nation-states as the locus of sovereignty – suggests that it may eventually come to pass."
Nobody seriously expects that even a liberal Congress would voluntarily vote that kind of money for U.N. causes. Perhaps it would even balk at accepting a global tax. But failure to pay would lead to the predictable charges that the U.S. was in default on its international obligations that were set by Congress. And that would increase the pressure to come up with some means to generate the funds. A President Obama might then demand that the Congress "pay its dues" to the international community.
Many people don't realize that an international tax on airline travel is already in effect in several countries, in order to generate funds to fight AIDS. Why not a global tax to combat poverty? That is inevitably where the Global Poverty Act leads the country, and the State Department, the U.N. and the foreign aid lobby know it. Only our politicians pretend not to understand the ramifications of what they are doing. Their constituents and the voters should not be fooled.
In a fallback position, proponents of the Global Poverty Act argue that the bill only commits the U.S. to support one of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGS)-that of reducing global poverty. And they contend that the commitment to spending 0.7 percent of Gross National Product on official development assistance is not related to fulfilling this Millennium Goal of reducing poverty.
But the bill actually refers to the document containing all of the goals, which range from cutting global poverty in half to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education. It says, "At the United Nations World Summit in September 2005, the United States joined more than 180 other governments in reiterating their commitment to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by 2015." Notice the reference to the U.S. "joining" in this commitment.
The bill also defines the Millennium Development Goals as "the goals set out in the United Nations Millennium Declaration, General Assembly Resolution 55/2 (2000)."
What's more, the foreign aid lobby, InterAction, in its publication, "The United States and the MDGS," contends that the U.S. "has not fully joined the world community in making the reduction of global poverty a priority of its official development assistance (ODA)." This is an obvious reference to what Sachs was talking about. Foreign aid spending is directly and obviously related to poverty reduction. You can count on InterAction, which supports the Global Poverty Act, to lobby for more foreign aid spending, citing the Obama/Smith bill as justification.
This is how the Washington game of spending more of your money works. This is a budget buster that siphons your hard-earned tax dollars to the U.N. and the rest of the world.
In addition to seeking to eradicate poverty, that Millennium Declaration commits nations to banning "small arms and light weapons" and ratifying a series of treaties, including the International Criminal Court Treaty, the Kyoto Protocol (global warming treaty), the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Passage of the Global Poverty Act would not, of course, result in those treaties being ratified. But it does increase the domestic and international pressure to do so. And that is another inherent danger of the Global Poverty Act.
The Millennium Declaration also affirms the U.N. as "the indispensable common house of the entire human family, through which we will seek to realize our universal aspirations for peace, cooperation and development."
Does anybody seriously believe that? Does Rep. Adam Smith? Does Senator Barack Obama? Does Senator McCain?
But that is the mentality that went into creating and passing the Global Poverty Act. It is now on the verge of passage by the full Senate.
Read Glenn Beck additional comments on Obama's Global Poverty Act here.
Read what Rush Limbaugh said about Obama's Global Poverty Act here.