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Highway Robbery of Texas Roads
By Cathie Adams, president of Texas Eagle Forum
Legislators have gotten our message but since both highway funds, the State Highway Fund (a gasoline tax) and the Texas Mobility Fund (bond money), have been pilfered for other uses, there is no money for road building.
Members of the Texas Senate Transportation & Homeland Security Committee met on August 7 to discuss this funding dilemma. Committee Chairman John Carona suggested a new constitutional amendment to protect the two existing highway funds from future abuses. He also recommended linking the state gas tax to inflation, in order to keep pace with the economy. Both ideas could be helpful in the future, but do nothing to remedy our current state of affairs.
A new funding scheme, public-private partnerships, was also discussed which allows foreign interests to lease our infrastructure for 50-99 years. Like highway robbers, those private investors would profit as much as 39 times the road building cost and then take their loot and leave the country. That’s a bad deal for Texans who currently own our infrastructure, want to continue to own it and furthermore want our taxes / tolls to be invested back into road building.
The committee has until 2009 to come up with funding solutions, but they would be wise to consider WHY the demand for new roads is so great because it is not just because of population growth. The elephant in the room that no one wants to tackle is the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, which former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger called “the architecture of a new international system.”
When Congress approved NAFTA in 1993 with a simple majority of both chambers in a lame duck session, they ignored the U.S. Constitution’s requirement that the international treaty be approved by two-thirds of the U.S. Senate. Setting aside our U.S. Constitution has destabilized our borders with Mexico and Canada and created new and mounting crises.
NAFTA has encouraged manufacturers to leave our shores presumably to avoid government regulations and union wages, but at what cost to American workers? Is it fair to force American workers to compete with millions of Communist government-enslaved laborers who earn about 30 cents an hour in Asia?
NAFTA has created a U.S. trade deficit of $725.8 billion, 26% of that, almost $233 billion, is with China. The deficit is not only unsustainable, the Chinese government is now threatening to liquidate its $1.33 trillion of foreign reserves, including about $900 billion in U.S. treasury bonds, as a political weapon if the U.S. imposes trade sanctions to force revaluation of the Chinese currency, the Yuan. Such a move would cause our dollar to collapse!
More than American jobs and the dollar being negatively impacted by NAFTA, importing goods that America used to manufacture causes an enormous strain to our nation’s infrastructure.
As a hearty endorser of this “architecture of a new international system,” President Bush agreed to a Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP, www.spp.gov) with Canada and Mexico without Congressional approval or debate in March 2005. He then directed the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Transportation to begin merging their bureaucracies with their counterparts in Mexico and Canada. In 2006 he met with the presidents of Mexico and Canada in Cancun, Mexico, and this year he took time from his vacation in Crawford to attend another closed-door meeting with them in Quebec, Canada.
As the President and most members of Congress deny their unconstitutional actions, every state is forced to deal with the consequences of NAFTA and the SPP. Taxpayers must pay for an invasion of illegal aliens and drug traffickers, as well as deal with colossal levels of congestion on our roads.
The tragic Minneapolis bridge disaster last August shined light on the overweight danger to our nation’s infrastructure. Federal transportation officials claim that one-fourth of our nation’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and one-third of our major roads are in poor or mediocre condition. They further claim that the cost to repair roads and bridges would be $461 billion and that traffic congestion is costing drivers $63 billion a year in wasted time and fuel costs.
Congress is just as guilty as state legislators in spending our highway funds on other projects. To counter their pilfering, they created a new federal program that grants cities $848 million aimed at discouraging people from driving, and in many cases by imposing new tolls or fees. Some in Congress also wanted to raise federal gas taxes, but President Bush quashed that bad idea. Thus far Texas legislators have also rejected a gas tax increase, but they embraced both toll/tax roads and public-private partnership funding.
Regretfully, Governor Rick Perry vetoed not only the moratorium, but also a law to require our Attorney General to study the impact of federal laws on our state and a good eminent domain bill aimed at protecting farmers and ranchers from the unfair taking of 580,000 acres to build the 12-lane TTC super-highway.
The unconstitutional NAFTA treaty and unilateral SPP agreement are undermining our nation’s sovereignty and security. In order for America to remain strong, we must be able to:
• Produce our own food;
• Manufacture our own military equipment; and
• Prevent foreign powers from obtaining access to our heartland.
Americans know that our roads have become busier, but few recognize that most of that traffic is due to the fact that we are importing goods that we used to manufacture. Even fewer are aware that as much as 60% of our food is now being imported or that much of our military equipment manufacturing has moved offshore. Yet federal and state lawmakers seem more committed to enabling elitist global interests, than fulfilling their constitutional responsibility to protect citizens from outside threats.
Each state should study the impact of NAFTA and the SPP within its borders, which would rightly lead to the repeal of both.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: It has taken more than a decade to realize the impact of the NAFTA “architecture of a new international system.” It cannot be repealed outright, but as citizens realize the source of the chaos in our communities, then they will influence their Congressmen as we have done with our state legislators in Texas. As for the SPP, ask your Congressman to co-sponsor HR 40 that would require discussion and debate of the president’s unilateral agreement. Congressional switchboard: 202-224-3121.
Looking ahead to the 2009 Texas legislative session, let us ask our representatives to pass another eminent domain bill to protect property owners from unfair takings and another bill to require the Attorney General Abbott to study the impact of federal laws, i.e. NAFTA and the SPP, on our state. Capitol switchboard: 512-463-4630.