Perry does the Texas two-step around NAFTA Highway…TTC

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Rick Perry Does the Texas Two-Step Around NAFTA Super Highway
by Jerome R. Corsi
Human Events Online
Nov 06, 2006

Gov. Rick Perry (R.-Tex.), in an interview with HUMAN EVENTS, attempted to defend his plan to build the Trans-Texas Corridor parallel to Interstate 35 (TTC-35) and denied he was attempting to create a “big, tri-lateral connection” between Canadians, the United States and Mexico.

As we have previously noted, Perry is locked in a re-election battle with three challengers who have all opposed TTC-35. Given the plurality nature of the Texas gubernatorial race, even if considerably more that 50% of those voting in the Texas gubernatorial election oppose TTC-35, Perry could win with as little as 35% of the vote and proceed with his super-highway plans.

To better structure the debate, we will abstract five major issues from the political arguments Perry advanced:

1. The projected doubling of population in Texas by 2040 demands the construction of TTC-35.

Perry argued that the population of Texas is projected to double by 2040. Moreover, he suggested that 50% of Texas population is in the I-35 corridor. From these statistics, the governor concluded that Texas had no choice but to construct new limited access highways. “We’re going to have to build some roads,” Perry told HUMAN EVENTS. “We must build some infrastructure in the state of Texas.”

We should note that U.S. Census estimates of population growth validate that the major anticipated growth in the U.S. between now and 2050 assumes that the current population invasion across our southern border with Mexico will continue unabated. Writing in 2001, the Census Bureau concluded that growth of the Hispanic-origin population is the major element of projected U.S. population growth.

By 2000, the Hispanic-origin population may increase to 31 million, double its 1990 size by 2015, and quadruple its 1990 size by the middle of the next century. In fact, the Hispanic-origin population would contribute 32% of the Nation’s population growth from 1990 to 2000, 39% from 2000 to 2010, 45% from 2010 to 2030, and 60% from 2030 to 2050.

These same Census Bureau projections validate that minus the Hispanic invasion from Mexico, U.S. population growth is actually slowing. The Census Bureau concluded that “the decrease in the rate of growth is predominantly due to the aging of the population and, consequently, a dramatic increase in the number of deaths.” If it were not for the Hispanic invasion, the Census Bureau said that from 2030 to 2050, the U.S. “would grow more slowly than ever before in its history.”

Granted, Texas draws migrants form other states because of its favorable sunbelt climate. Still, demographic studies have documented that in the 1990s, Texas gained five times as much population from immigration as domestic migration. Again, the conclusion is the same. Secure the borders and stop the invasion of illegal immigrants and Perry has no demographic basis for his alarmist population projections that the population of Texas will double by 2040.

2. Texas has no other option but to go to foreign investment to obtain the billions needed to build new Texas highways, rail lines, and energy pipeline systems.

Perry dismissed alternative financing mechanisms. “Hell, they won’t raise a 15-cent gas tax or a dime or a nickel,” he told HUMAN EVENTS. “So that was kind of out of the window.”

Nor was the governor optimistic about getting funds for interstate highway improvement or new limited access highway construction from Washington. Again, Perry was dismissive. “Our congressional delegation has not been very successful in getting Texas much over 9 cents out of every dime that’s sent to Washington in gas tax.”

So, by a process of elimination, Perry felt he had to turn to the private sector and accept toll roads, arguing, “There are no free highways. There’s tax roads and there’s toll roads.” Again, the language was sufficiently populist to play in Texas, but the governor neglected to explain why he felt the only alternative was to turn to a foreign private financing entity, Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transport, S.A., a Spanish investment consortium with ties to the Juan Carlos ruling family of Spain.

First, we should note that under SAFETEA-LU Texas improved its gas tax return formula up from the current 90.5%, to 92% by 2008. Perry neglects to mention that this percentage increase will result in increasing the gas tax return to Texas from $2.1 billion per year to $2.9 billion, a 37.4% increase, before earmarks. Earmarks add an additional $699 million to the take Texas gets for highway and transit projects.

So, at present, Texas is hardly without funds to improve the existing interstate highway system. Nor is Texas lacking for highways. The second largest state, Texas has the most highway miles in the country. Texas also has alternative highway financing available, as evidenced by the $1.86 billion in tax-exempt private activity bonds (PABs) the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) raised in October 2006 “to improve mobility in the Dallas area by accelerating development of State Highway 121.”

What Perry correctly should state is that in the current wave of public-private partnerships being developed by investment bankers seeking to derive huge fees, Cintra, a foreign capital fund in Spain, has offered the state a pot load of cash, some $184 billion over the next fifty years, if only Texas will allow Cintra to tear Texas up for super highways on which Cintra will receive the tolls for decades to come.

The full build-out of the TTC system is planned for a 4,000-mile network designed to crisscross the state, not just to rip a four-football-fields swath up the center of the state parallel to I-35. CorridorWatch.org provides a map of the Cintra plans, describing a highway network that will remove some 584,000 miles from the state tax rolls, displacing by eminent domain some 1 million Texans from their homes, places of business, and currently productive ranch and farmland.

Perhaps what the governor meant to say was that other financing options existed to develop Texas highways over the next fifty years, but none of the options offered the campaign contribution possibilities that were offered by Spain? We have separately documented that Perry’s 2006 gubernatorial campaign has received substantial contributions from Cintra, as well as from San Antonio’s Zachery Construction Company which has entered into a limited partnership with Cintra to undertake the TTC construction.

Then, as Perry pointed out, all highways cost the public something. Yet, do we have any real idea just how much the TTC system will cost Texans in toll charges. If Cintra decides to charge tolls in the range of 20 cents a mile, this could be equivalent to adding one or two dollars of gas tax.

We have had limited experience in this country with foreign ownership of roads. What certainty do we have that once TTC-35 is built that Texans will have the unrestricted option to continue using the existing I-35 freeway without paying tolls? Should Cintra not derive the toll revenue projected to their investors, will TxDOT begin restricting access to I-35, in a move to force more Texans to use the toll alternative? Will TxDOT continue expanding and improving I-35 once TTC-35 is built, or will TTC-35 suddenly derive the status of a neglected stepchild? As Perry himself pointed out, nothing is free and Texans should expect to pay for all this construction Cintra is so generously offering to fund.

3. TTC-35 is not a NAFTA Super Highway

Perry portrays TTC-35 as if the super highway were simply the most efficient solution to solving future Texas transportation needs. He argues that TTC-35 is “the smallest footprint,” a concept to consolidate roads, pipelines, and trains in “one particular pathway” that is “all in one place.”

Yet what exactly is the future transportation need that TTC-35 is designed to solve. We begin by noting that the current design of TTC-35 on the TxDOT website is to by-pass every major city on the way north from Laredo on the Mexican border to just below Oklahoma City on the Oklahoma border with Texas. Austin and Dallas are both by-passed. Any connections between I-35 or other existing highways will not be funded by Cintra.

The primary goal then does not appear to be to relieve existing I-35 congestion in Dallas or Texas. TTC construction is not planned to start in these major cities, nor has any considerable thought given to establishing connections between TTC-35 and I-35. The major goal of TTC-35 remains to bypass Texas cities, not to provide alternative inner-city toll routes designed as alternative routes to siphon off those willing and able to pay for faster, supposedly less congested alternatives.

The real purpose of TTC-35 is not to relieve urban highway congestion in Texas, but to open up Mexican ports on the Pacific so Mexican trucks and Mexican trains can participate in a cost reduction scheme to bring containers with slave-labor or near-slave-labor goods manufactured in China and the Far East can be brought more cheaply into the U.S. heartland. This design objective is revealed on the website of the Kansas City SmartPort, where SmartPort officials describe TTC-35 as part of a North American corridor that justifies the SmartPort putting a Mexican customs facility in Kansas City. The diagram below drawn from the SmartPort website graphically makes the point.

Perhaps the governor would be well advised to spend more time reading U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) publications which openly describe the projected 4,000 miles of TTC four-football-wide super highways Cintra is planning to build as part of a NAFTA-CAFTA plan to use Texas as a “gateway” for foreign goods entering the U.S. via Mexico. The map immediately below is described by the FHWA as showing “the heavy volume of freight shipped through Texas, a major trade gateway from Mexico and South America, as red lines branching out from the heart of the Lone Star State.”

We have separately demonstrated that like population plan projections done by the Census Bureau, projections of future port, rail, and highway needs are heavily predicated on the U.S. opening our borders wide to foreign trade. Much of this trade is envisioned to allow a continuing unprecedented flow of container goods from China, regardless of the adverse impact on our balance of trade with China that will inevitably increase our already huge and growing imbalances.

Even NASCO, the trade organization whose acronym name stands for “North American SuperCorridor Coalition, Inc.,” would have to agree that TTC-35 being planned by NASCO member TxDOT is part of the NASCO “super corridor” envisioned for Interstate Highways 35/29/94. Either that or NASCO should repudiate the plans of its TxDOT member and tell Perry to focus on promoting Texas manufacturing instead.

4. Perry is busy securing the Texas border with Mexico

Perry attempted to prove that he was not working for the creation of a North American Union because he was intent on securing the southern border. We strongly dispute Perry’s seriousness about this border security claim.

On October 10, Rep. Michael McCaul (R.-Tex.), chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Investigations, released a report that produced evidence the Bush Administration has been dramatically underestimating the numbers of illegal immigrants, the volume of drugs, and the risk of violent crime and terrorism entering the U.S. across our wide-open border with Mexico.

The report, titled “A Line in the Sand: Confronting the Threat at the Southwest Border,” claims that as many as 4 to 10 million illegal aliens crossed our border with Mexico in 2005. Previous government figures have underestimated the number as at low as 1.2 million.

This finding supports a key contention we argued in the book, “Minutemen: The Battle to Secure America’s Borders,” co-authored with Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project. In chapter two, “The Trojan Horse Invasion,” we maintained that “illegal immigration numbers are all about politics.” Bush administration reports of illegal immigration are intentionally under-estimated in order to reassure the American public that the problem is manageable. We argue there maybe as many as 30 million illegal aliens currently in the U.S., not the 12 million that Bush administration figures generally cite.

The McCaul report also produced a map which shows the wide-open drug trade and human smuggling coming across from Mexico into Texas.

Remarkably, the Mexican drug cartel and human smuggling routes in Texas look remarkably like the 4,000 mile TTC full build-out proposed by Perry and Cintra.

Other proof that the Texas border with Mexico is wide open comes from personal experience. The following photo of the author with Gilchrist was taken on the Laredo border with Mexico on Sept. 11, 2006, following a Minuteman rally in downtown Laredo at which Rep. Steve King (R.-Iowa) spoke.

On the other side of this fence barrier is the Rio Grande, the only other barrier preventing illegal immigrants from entering the United States. Perry, much like President Bush, is long on rhetoric about the need to secure our border with Mexico and short on results.

Judicial Watch has obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request Department of Homeland Security records which document 266 Mexican government incursions into the U.S. from 1996 to 2005. Many of these incursions involved the Mexican military supporting drug cartel deliveries of drugs into the U.S. Many of these Mexican government incursions came across the Texas border that Perry and President Bush (Perry’s predecessor in the first of these years) have been working so hard to secure, with no apparent success.

5. TTC-35 is not part of a plan to create a North American Union

“I don’t see some great conspiracy,” Perry told HUMAN EVENTS, explaining instead that TTC-35 was only intended to advance the economic vitality of Texas. Again, we appreciate the governor inserting the dismissive characterization of “conspiracy” to those of us who see a plan developing to evolve NAFTA into a North American Community to be followed by a NAU much as the European Common Market evolved into the European Union and the Euro as a common currency.

We would advise Perry to examine the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America website that is maintained in the U.S. Department of Commerce. Here in a document titled “2005 Report to Leaders” we see described a program in which trusted traders will be issued SENTRI electronic chips to speed border crossings. This program will ultimately allow Mexican trucks to enter the U.S. from Mexican ports with containers from China and the Far East, with a major entry point certain to be Laredo, Texas, the origin of TTC-35.

We have previously discussed the degree to which the Kansas City Southern railroad, now billing itself as “The NAFTA Railroad,” is integrated into the TTC-35 plan, utilizing SPP guidelines to move container goods from Mexican ports into the U.S. via Laredo, Texas, with the plan to continue north along the rail corridors planned for construction as an integral part of the TTC-35 design.

On the website of the Minuteman Project, we have archived the approximately 1,000 pages we have received on a FOIA request from the SPP office within the U.S. Department of Commerce. Those who doubt that a shadow trilateral bureaucracy has already been formed are invited to review here the SPP working group membership lists which give the names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of the Mexican, Canadian, and U.S. administrative agency personnel who are coordinating right now to “integrate” and “harmonize” U.S. administrative laws and regulations into a trilateral North American format.

Finally, Perry is invited to consult with Rep. Ron Paul (R.-Tex.) who has separately described TTC-35 as a NAFTA Super Highway. Paul agrees with us that the ultimate goal of the TxDOT TTC scheme is “not simply a super highway, but an integrated North American Union — complete with a currency, a cross-national bureaucracy, and virtually borderless travel within the Union.”

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