U.S. to teach Mexicans to game American system

By Steve Peacock

It’s an expenditure of only $100,000 – mere pocket change in the vast labyrinth of federal spending – but the funds are for the creation of a manual to teach people how to get more money from the U.S. government.

And the recipients aren’t even citizens of the United States.

The U.S. Trade & Development Agency, an independent White House agency, is laying the foundation for the government of Mexico to infuse hundreds of billions of dollars into modernizing its roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure.

While it remains to be seen how much direct financial assistance the U.S. will provide, even the looming threat of a government shutdown has failed to curb President Obama’s plan to cut U.S. Treasury checks for the Mexican endeavor.

The industry-crafted report likewise will serve as a corporate-welfare roadmap for U.S. businesses seeking future contracts awarded under the massive project, according to a USTDA planning document that WND located via routine database research.

USTDA is enlisting the help of a contractor to carry out this “definitional mission,” or DM, to create what it tentatively titles a “Resource Guide for U.S. Industry on Priority Infrastructure Projects.”

Despite the title’s emphasis on the benefits that U.S. industry could glean from the endeavor, the DM’s Scope of Work, or SOW, says the selected vendor will be required to “submit an overview of the relevant financing options” that the Mexican government may pursue.

Among potential options for the multi-hundred-billion-dollar modernization effort is financing through governmental institutions such as the U.S. Export-Import Bank, or Ex-Im, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, or OPIC.

The SOW, in solicitation RFQ-CO201351297, explicitly directs the contractor to contact Ex-Im Bank, OPIC and private/commercial institutions to obtain such information on behalf of Mexico. The document also specifies the contractor must evaluate the financing data to ensure “which options represent the best value” for Mexico.

While USTDA arguably is a relatively small agency – its FY 2014 budget request is just under $63 million – it consistently undergoes criticism along with calls for closure. Former Republican Rep. Ron Paul and free-market think tanks such as the Cato Institute regularly denounce it as among the most duplicative and wasteful of all federal entities.

USTDA, Ex-Im Bank and OPIC consequently are among the most egregious examples of “corporate welfare waste,” the Cato Institute concluded in a 2005 report. These and similar organizations “should be terminated,” contends the report’s author, Chris Edwards.

While totals for previous Ex-Im Bank and OPIC financing of Mexican infrastructure projects were not readily available for this report, a search of prior USTDA initiatives reveal numerous efforts to arrange U.S. backing of such projects.

Several endeavors were launched under the George W. Bush administration.

The agency under Bush was equally generous to the Mexican government, which likewise received grants to explore financing options for infrastructure as well as “green” projects.

Bush’s USTDA in 2006 paid for a DM to help Mexico achieve closer parity with the “strength and competitiveness” of the U.S. and Canada, its North America Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, partners.

Despite the overall viability of this trading block, USTDA at the time lamented that Mexico “suffered from lost manufacturing jobs to Asia and is searching for methods to regain its competitiveness,” according to the DM for the Mexico Secretariat of Communications & Transportation Multimodal National Plan.

“One of Mexico’s solutions to increasing competitiveness is to capitalize on its geographical proximity to the U.S., offering more secure and efficient trade transportation networks with the U.S. and thus Canada,” the agency said in that endeavor.

USTDA similarly financed an analysis of Mexico’s planned modernization of Tijuana as a modern transportation center just south of the California border.

Those discoveries further affirm what Jerome R. Corsi, WND senior staff reporter, had suggested in his book “The Late, Great USA: The Coming Merger with Mexico and Canada” about the tri-national transportation and political linkages.

Recently, USTDA separately began evaluating contractor proposals to conduct a DM on behalf of the Mexican Association of Railroads. The agency will award a $50,000 grant to a U.S. contractor, whose finding will help it decide whether to fund additional projects supporting “the development of Mexico’s freight rail system, which is a critical component of Mexico’s economy and trade.”

Potential projects include assessments of railroad infrastructure “to accommodate the transportation of various oil and gas products.”

USTDA separately agreed to provide a $455,000 grant to the State of Puebla Secretariat of Transportation to conduct a feasibility study of a proposed “intelligent transportation system” project.

Puebla authorities reached out to the administration for help because the “demand for public transportation is expected to increase at an even higher rate than its population growth.”

U.S. officials agreed that the development of bus rapid-transit systems along six of the Puebla’s key corridors would “provide significant benefits to Puebla’s population in terms of improved convenience and safety, shorter travel times, and reduced environmental impacts.”

WND reported on those projects as part of a broader review of Mexico-specific, U.S. funded initiatives. However, in contrast to the USTDA intelligent transportation system and railway endeavors – which must hire U.S. contractors – the U.S. Agency for International Development is prohibiting U.S. contractors from participating in a recent assistance scheme.

USTDA under Obama has financed a multitude of other transportation initiatives that simultaneously benefit the Mexican people and U.S. businesses, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers.

Multiple DMs and feasibility studies for airport modernization and expansion initiatives, as well as for numerous environmental endeavors, have received USTDA funding since Obama first took office.

Other USTDA global ventures that WND has uncovered include a plan to modernize China’s energy grid, hire private-sector consultants to help its Ministry of Environmental Protection and separately help to modify the nation’s corporate laws.

Coinciding with cancellations of various federally funded celebrations of Independence Day, USTDA began helping Chile deploy a National Emergency Network, assist Ghana in expanding electrical transmission lines and enable U.S. energy equipment providers to use taxpayer funds in search of international clients.

USTDA also has taken action to boost the viability of Kenyan power companies and provide greater stability to the Pakistani power grid.

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