April 22, 2008 | Commentary on Political Thought
Foreign Debt Relief
Last week the House passed the "Jubilee Act" to cancel debt for poor countries, a move that could cost Americans billions of dollars. House leaders failed to attach promised reforms to the debt cancellation, despite Treasury Undersecretary David McCormick's request that "any debt relief should be conditioned on the adoption of policies that promote sound economic practices." Apparently, they don't mind promoting unaccountable lending and forgiving nations that lack the will and/or the ability to repay their American taxpayer-financed loans.
The bill, sponsored by Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), would allow the Treasury Department to begin canceling the debt owed by eligible low-income countries. According to Congressional Quarterly, more than 30 developing countries have received nearly $80 billion of debt cancellation since 1996.
Right-minded conservatives should oppose efforts to bail out bad loans made by international organizations just as vigorously as they oppose bailing out American banks that made bad loans. Private donations to international development efforts are a better way to help these poor nations. Using taxpayer dollars to help international banks engaging in bad loans would be a costly mistake.
Liberals continue to block President Bush's conservative
judicial nominees, hoping they can pack the courts with liberal
judges under a potential Democrat administration and a more
liberal-leaning Senate. Two weeks ago on the Senate floor, Sen.
Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said, "The majority has stalled judicial
confirmation votes longer this year than in any presidential
election year since 1848 … This is the latest start to
judicial confirmations of any presidential election year in 160
years." This is no accident.
The federal courts are important, because they are the training grounds for future Supreme Court nominees. There are 12 circuit and 34 district court vacancies. The Senate would have to confirm eight circuit and 19 district court nominees by the end of the year to replicate the confirmation numbers in the last two years of President Bill Clinton's administration. Last week, Democratic Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made a deal to confirm three appeals court nominees by Memorial Day. Yet further confirmations are in doubt.
Conservatives need to stay on guard to ensure that the table isn't set for future nominees who would legislate a "constitutional right" of same-sex "marriage," take away the right to keep and bear arms, and strike down any mention of God in the public square.
As Congress prepares to debate the climate-change legislation sponsored by Sens. John Warner (R-Va.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) this June, President Bush has called for "carbon-weighted" incentives to make "lower emission power sources less expensive relative to higher emissions sources" and outlined principles that legislation should follow. Unfortunately, the president may have given Congress a green light to embrace a softer version of former Vice President Gore's ideas to stop global warming. The president argued for legislation to set a "new intermediate national goal for stopping the growth of greenhouse gas emissions."
What the president, Sens. Warner and Lieberman, and many well-intentioned Americans fail to understand is that American families will suffer under any regimes that place mandatory caps on carbon. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Warner-Lieberman would cost Americans at least $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. There is no way to extract more than $1 trillion from the economy without putting more pressure on America's middle-and working-class families. Even a compromise that would cost Americans $500 million wouldn't be acceptable.
Less than 10 weeks ago, the president signed a bill to give tax rebates to middle- and working-class families in an attempt to stimulate the economy. Now the president appears ready to support heavy-handed regulation, even though a Warner-Lieberman approach to climate control could cost the average American family more per year than their one-time tax rebate.
April showers bring May flowers, but liberal ideas in the spring might mean we'll be harvesting a stagnant economy this fall. Conservatives must keep a close eye on our elected officials in Washington to make sure they do no more harm to the economy with massive bailouts of foreign debt and misguided climate-change initiatives.
Brian Darling is director of US Senate relations and congressional analyst at The Heritage Foundation (heritage.org).
First appeared in Human Events