Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va. (Photo: University of Virginia)
A House resolution urging President Bush “not to go forward with the North American Union or the NAFTA Superhighway system” is – according to its sponsor Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va., in an exclusive WND interview – “also a message to both the executive branch and the legislative branch.”
As WND previously reported, on Jan. 22 Goode introduced H.C.R. 40, titled “Expressing the sense of Congress that the United States should not engage in the construction of a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Superhighway System or enter into a North American Union with Mexico and Canada.”
WND asked Goode if the president was risking electoral success for the Republican Party in 2008 with his insistence on pushing for North American integration via the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, or SPP.
“Yes,” Goode answered. “You won’t hear the leadership in the Republican Party admit it, but there are many in the House and Senate who know that illegal immigration has to be stopped and legal immigration has to be reduced. We are giving away the country so a few very rich people can get richer.”
How did he react when President Bush referred to those who suggest the SPP could turn into the North American Union as “conspiracy theorists”?
“The president is really engaging in a play on words,” Goode responded. “The secretary of transportation came before our subcommittee,” he explained, “and I had the opportunity to ask her some questions about the NAFTA Superhighway. Of course, she answered, ‘There’s no NAFTA Superhighway.’ But then Mary Peters proceeded to discuss the road system that would come up from Mexico and go through the United States up into Canada.”
“So, I think that saying we’re ‘conspiracy theorists’ or something like that is really just a play on words with the intent to demonize the opposition,” Goode concluded.
Goode stressed that the Bush administration supports both a NAU regional government and a NAFTA Superhighway system: “The Bush administration as well as Mexico and Canada have persons in the government in all three countries who want to a see a North American Union as well as a highway system that would bring goods into the west coast of Mexico and transport them up through Mexico into the United States and then in onto Canada,” Goode confirmed.
The Virginia congressman said he believes the motivation behind the movement toward North American integration is the anticipated profits the large multinational corporations in each of the three countries expect to make from global trade, especially moving production to China.
“Some really large businesses that get a lot from China would like a NAFTA Superhighway system because it would reduce costs for them to transport containers from China and, as a result, increase their margins,” he argued.
“I am vigorously opposed to the Mexican trucks coming into the country,” Goode continued. “The way we have done it and, I think, the way we should do it in the future, is to have the goods come into the United States from Mexico within a 20-mile commercial space and unloaded from Mexican trucks into U.S. trucks. This procedure enhances the safety of the country, the security of the country, and provides much less chance for illegal immigration.”
As WND reported, the Department of Transportation has begun a Mexican truck “demonstration project” under which 100 Mexican trucking companies are being allowed to run their long-haul rigs throughout the U.S.
Previously, Mexican trucks have been limited to a 20-mile commercial zone in the United States, with the requirement that goods bound for locations in the U.S. beyond the 20-mile commercial zone be off-loaded to U.S. trucks.
WND reported last month that Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., successfully offered an amendment to the Department of Transportation Fiscal Year 2008 appropriations bill to block DOT from spending any federal funds to implement the truck project.
Dorgan’s amendment passed 75-23, after Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., changed her vote to support Dorgan.
By a voice vote, the House passed an amendment offered by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., to the DOT appropriations bill comparable to Dorgan’s, designed to block the agency from using federal funds to implement the truck project.
DeFazio chairs the House transportation subcommittee that oversees motor carriers.
“With the Trans-Texas Corridor, which I would say is part of the NAFTA Superhighway system, and with this NAFTA plot with the Mexican trucks just coming in and not loading off to U.S. trucks, they will just drive right over the Rio Grande and come on over into Texas,” Goode argued. “A lot of these Mexican trucks will be bring containerized cargo from the west coast of Mexico where they will be unloaded in Mexican ports to avoid the fees and costs of unloading at U.S. ports.”
“So, when you look at the total package,” he continued, “we do have a NAFTA Superhighway system already in place. There are those in all three countries that believe we should have a North American Union and the Security and Prosperity Partnership, in my opinion takes us down that road. And I am vigorously opposed to the loss of our sovereignty.”
Why, WND asked, do so many congressmen and senators insist on writing and telling their constituents that they don’t know anything about the Security and Prosperity Partnership, or that SPP working groups are really just to increase our competitiveness?
“In the House, a strong majority voted to provide no money in the transportation funding bill,” Goode responded. “I commend Congressman Duncan Hunter for submitting an amendment to the Department of Transportation funding bill [which] got over 360 votes that said no funds in the transportation appropriation measure, prohibiting Department of Transportation funds from being used to participate on working groups that promote the Security and Prosperity Partnership.”
As WND reported, Hunter’s amendment to the FY 2008 Department of Transportation funding bill prohibiting DOT from using federal funds to participate in SPP working groups creating NAFTA Superhighways passed 362 to 63, with strong bipartisan support. The House approved H.R. 3074 by 268-153, with the Hunter amendment included.
“So, I think a majority the House, if you had an up or down vote on the SPP, would vote down on the SPP,” Goode concluded. “But some still say, and it’s a play on words, that we don’t have a Security and Prosperity Partnership that will lead to a North American Union. I don’t think they can say anymore that we don’t have a Security and Prosperity Partnership arrangement between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, because that was done in Waco, Texas, on March 23, 2005, and the recent meeting at Montebello was to talk about it further.”
WND asked Goode to comment on the North American Competitiveness Council, or NACC, a group of multinational corporations selected by the Chambers of Commerce in Mexico, Canada and the U.S. as the central adviser of SPP working groups.
At the SPP summit in Montebello, Quebec, the NACC met behind closed doors with the three leaders, cabinet secretaries who were present, and top SPP working group bureaucrats, while various public advocacy groups, environmental groups, labor unions – and the press – were excluded.
Should SPP working group meetings be open to the public?
“I wish they were,” Goode responded. “If it is as the Bush administration says, ‘We’re not planning any North American Union,’ then why wouldn’t those meetings be open, why wouldn’t you let the media in?” Goode asked.
“But some of the very big corporations want the goods from China to come in here unchecked,” he continued. “It costs money for U.S. trucks to transport Chinese goods from West Coast ports like Los Angeles or Long Beach. But if you can have a Mexican truck and Mexican truck driver, that’s going to be cheaper. And it’s all about the margins. The margins relate directly to how much money the multi-national corporations are going to make.”
Has the Senate debate on the Dorgan amendment brought the issues of the NAU and NAFTA Superhighways more to the attention of the Senate?
“I think so,” Goode said. “That debate had a very positive effect. You had grass-roots support calling the Senate on the Dorgan amendment.
“The Bush administration engages in the same play of words with all these issues,” Goode added. “Take a look at the Kennedy-McCain comprehensive immigration reform, which the Bush administration has now tried to jam through the Senate not once, but twice.
“The Bush administration claims it’s not [amnesty] when you let someone stay in the country and give them a path to citizenship,” Goode pointed out. “Well, that’s their definition, not my definition, and not the definition of the majority of the public. The majority of the public called in and buried the amnesty bill because of public pressure. Public pressure also got de-funded the pilot program on Mexican trucks in this country.”
So should the U.S. pull out of the SPP?
“Yes,” Goode answered, “but the best way to end SPP would be to have a chief executive that wouldn’t do anything with it.”
What does Goode think of the state legislatures that are passing anti-NAU, anti-NAFTA Superhighway and anti-SPP resolutions?
“If enough state legislatures pass resolutions like that, it surely should have an impact on the House and the Senate,” Goode said.
“President Bush’s position is that we need to carry out NAFTA and we need to have this free flow of goods with Mexico and Canada,” Goode explained. “Well, Bush’s approach involves a derogation of our sovereignty and it also undermines the security and the safety of the country.
“It will be much easier for a truck to get a container on the west coast of Mexico and haul in a biological or radiological or nuclear weapon than it would be if you are going to have to unload the trucks on the Texas-Mexico border and put the goods and material in a U.S. truck,” he continued.
“The problem is that the NAU, NAFTA Superhighways and SPP all go back to money,” Goode stressed. “The multinational companies want their goods from Mexico and China because they want the cheap labor.”
What about the U.S.’ large and growing trade imbalance with China?
“I don’t want to have to be an ‘I told you so’ person,” Goode answered, “but I was a vigorous opponent of PNTR (“permanent normal trade relations”) and before that of ‘most favored nation’ trade status with China. We need tariffs and quotas with China. Personally, if I know food is coming in from China, I won’t buy it. The American people with the adoption of COOL, country of origin labeling, with the food clearly labeled, I think you will see the American public will shy away from Chinese products.”
In 2000, Congress voted to extend to China PNTR. “Most favored nation” or MFN trade status, was given to China first in 1980 by the Carter administration. COOL rules are administered by the Department of Agriculture.
Goode concluded the interview by thanking WND for covering the SPP, NAU and NAFTA Superhighway issues: “I want to thank you for putting these issues out where people can read it,” Goode said. “You have enlightened hundreds of thousands if not millions of American citizens who otherwise would have been greatly in the dark on the SPP.”
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