Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cuban Communists and the California Farm Bureau


Earlier today, the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss the liberalization of trade with Communist Dictator Castro’s government. You can see video of the hearing here.

You can read my full remarks to the committee below:

Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade

"I do not support liberalizing trade with Cuba, a nation governed by a brutal Communist Dictatorship. To justify this initiative, some may draw parallels with China or other foreign powers that have also been hostile to American freedom. But make no mistake, Cuba is not China and these comparisons are not valid. Here are a few reasons why:

• Cuba, not China, is stoking anti-American sentiment throughout the Western Hemisphere and is openly hostile to our nation.

• Cuba is a state sponsor of terrorism – along with Iran, Syria, and Sudan.

• Cuba is one of a handful of totalitarian states remaining in the world, alongside Burma and North Korea.

• Trade with Cuba means trade with one company – Alimport. Any talk of open trade with Cuba is a distortion. What we are talking about is open trade with Castro’s import/export regime.

Let me be clear, I am not defending Chinese currency manipulation. And I believe the U.S. has many challenges ahead with respect to our relationship with China. But it is inappropriate and dangerous to use the China model of engagement for the brutal totalitarian regime in Cuba.

And while I understand that American foreign policy has taken on a bold new look and feel under the Obama Administration, I am compelled to ask a basic question: Is this Congress seriously proposing to advance trade with terrorist states before completing work on agreements with Democratic allies and strategic partners?

Trade with Cuba is not a question of economics, it is a matter of geopolitics and American national security.

I recognize that liberalization might make a few Americans a lot of money. And I don’t blame certain elements of our economy, including the California Farm Bureau, for entertaining profits over the larger ideals of freedom and national security.

To my knowledge, no members of the California Farm Bureau have been murdered for their political views. Here is a picture depicting Cubans murdered by the Castro regime.

And it might come as a surprise to supporters of trade with Cuba that killing a cow in that country, without government permission, results in longer prison sentences than killing a human being.

The California Farm Bureau and other exporters do not represent this nation’s national interests. The American people are tired of sectional interests governing our country. As leaders, we are charged with the responsibility of putting aside these narrow interests in favor of the national interest.

As a Representative of California’s number one agriculture district, I can assure you I have done so with respect to Cuba.

Yet, I fear many of my colleagues have lost sight of this responsibility.

While we discuss trade with Cuba, this committee has sat idle while Congressional leaders have blocked consideration of vital agreements with Columbia, Panama, and South Korea.

Our allies in Central and South America are under constant assault by hostile powers – including Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. Without our support, we leave these friendly Democracies at the mercy of anti America sentiment and militant Marxist ideology.

So I ask, when will the House consider the Columbian and Panamanian agreements?

And while we are asking questions, I would also like to know why so many anti-trade Democrats - those responsible for holding up consideration of important free trade agreements with our Democratic allies - are so intent on liberalizing trade with the Communist Dictatorship in Cuba?

I understand that some in this House may share the Marxist views of Castro and Chavez, but we must all recognize that American freedom is incompatible with these regimes.

And quite frankly, with so many opportunities to enhance trade relationships with democracies, it is utterly incomprehensible that time and tax dollars are being wasted on Cuba. Yet here we sit.

I urge my Democratic colleagues to take a stand one way or the other. Either end the waiting game currently confronting our allies – Columbia, South Korea, and Panama, and give them a vote on their trade agreements. Or kill them now and get on with your agenda.

Perhaps some of my colleagues would be more comfortable negotiating free trade agreements with Iran, North Korea and Venezuela."

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Dimmer Switch in the Oval Office: Obama’s Energy Rationing Plan


Two of President Obama’s advisors testified before the House Ways and Means Committee this week to discuss U.S. energy policy (view my questions here). They focused on “green energy” yet were forced to admit that windmills and solar panels will be inadequate to satisfy our nation’s growing needs (see details from my 2008 report here).

Our nation’s current energy supply is inadequate and we are dangerously close to capacity in many regions – relying on outdated transmission and generation systems. Consumers are paying the price with high rates, not only in California but in many other states.

Furthermore, more than half of our energy comes from imports. This makes the United States highly vulnerable to external pressures and economically damaging price shocks – more so than at any time in our history.

What is the Obama solution to this problem?

Energy “productivity” and government control are the linchpins of his plan. In this instance, “productivity” is radical environmentalist code for high energy prices and forced rationing. (You can see President Obama admitting high prices will be part of his plan by clicking here.)

If President Obama and his Democrat supermajorities in Congress have their way, new government edicts and bureaucrats will dictate how you use energy and under what circumstances energy consuming products can be sold to Americans.

The Energy Star system, developed to inform consumers and encourage conservation, will become an Energy Czar system with national laws that mirror California’s outrageous policy banning big screen televisions. Economic prosperity and affordable energy are directly linked. Without abundant and affordable energy supplies to grow our economy, more jobs will be sent to China and other nations that make actual energy production a priority.

We can’t let President Obama put a dimmer switch in the Oval Office – where our consumption of energy will be subject to the whims of Soviet-style resource allocators.

There is a better way.

I will soon be introducing a bill I am co-sponsoring with Rep. Paul Ryan called The Roadmap for America’s Energy Future, which is part of our larger Roadmap reform initiative. The bill takes advantage of our nation’s abundant fossil fuel resources, along with extensive nuclear power development, to power America until advanced alternatives are able to replace them. Keep an eye on my blog and website for details in the coming weeks.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Soviet Socialism, American Leftists, and European PIGS


(On April 1, 2010, The Flash Report publish my article on "Soviet Socialism, American Leftists, European PIGS.")

We have heard a lot lately about my comments relating Obamacare to the failed socialist policies of the Soviet Union. Liberals and a host of radical leftists have mocked my observation in their blogs and some mainstream news outlets have even poked fun at me. However, the transformation of America is no laughing matter.

The parallels between leftist policies today and those of failed socialist states are undeniable; so much so that even a Russian state-owned news commentator was forced to concede my point:

“Republican Devin Nunes accused the bill of continuing the failed Soviet experiment. He was overly emotional but there is a grain of truth in what he said... Apparently, the socialist experience has proved too tempting to be resisted.” (RIANOVOSTI News, March 22, 2010)
Thanks to increasing regulation, rising taxes and greater centralization of power in Washington America is slowly leaving behind the foundation of its economic strength; namely the entrepreneurial energy that comes from freedom. And while a full-fledged Marxist revolution may not be on the horizon, the transformation of America in the image of European socialism is real and it should be of great concern to us all.

The most obvious example of failed central planning remains the Soviet Union. However, failed socialist policies are not limited to the history books. Consider the economic decline and social unrest in Europe.

As a result of government dominance throughout the European economy, member states are facing the current global economic crisis with limited options. The direct pain confronting Europeans is therefore magnified, just as the prospects for economic recovery are limited. These limitations are practical, resulting from the patchwork of laws and regulations imposed on their economies, as well as political, the result of mass dependence on government programs—a dependence shared by all but a handful of wealthy elites.

Evidence of this fact is widely available today. For example, French leaders recently cut federal spending in an attempt to address their national debt crisis. The cuts, however, resulted in massive general strikes, as well as social unrest—riots, looting and mass demonstrations.

Throughout Europe political leaders have been burned in effigy by protestors. They are being forced to choose between social order and financial order. Pay cuts for government employees, for example, result in general strikes. More radical reforms, including those needed for long-term economic health, can’t even be discussed openly.

In the final analysis, without the support of the masses, EU governments are left without the ability to change course and are forced to preside over national decline. I refer to this condition as an economic death spiral.

EU democracies face this threat because deficit spending cannot sustain an economy long-term. At some point, foreign lenders will resist additional financing—a problem already faced by a group of European countries known as the PIGS. The PIGS are Portugal, Ireland, Greece, and Spain. Together they have a combined debt of approximately $198 billion. Spain’s debt is highest, at $116 billion, followed by Greece at $37 billion, Ireland at $30 billion and Portugal at $15 billion.

Some have suggested these nations could be the first in the developed world to default on their credit obligations but the more likely scenario is that they will face long-term economic stagnation. This means high unemployment, high interest rates and little prospect for improvement.

Interestingly, you don’t have to look as far as Europe to find such as doomsday scenario. Leftists in California have driven the state to the brink of bankruptcy with a deficit of $20 billion. If major reforms are not enacted, California will join the PIGS of Europe as another failed social democracy. Perhaps worse, if Obamacare and other Democratic policies are allowed to continue unaltered, America itself will join in this fate.

Click here for the link to my article.