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 the United
Nations. That is why Americans across the country are rising up in opposition
to it. One wonders when or if McCain will get the message. He has yet
to definitely come out against the U.N.’s Law of the Sea Treaty, which
is also pending before the full Senate.
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
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. And that is why I wrote my initial column  about it.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.