The United States has become the mall of America to foreigners interested in owning a piece of us, and the price is cheap.
Our national highways and other infrastructures were bought and paid for by the citizen taxpayers of this country. Now, those same assets are being offered to the highest bidders, mostly foreign ones.
We saw the bridge collapse in Minnesota a few months ago. It had been left to deteriorate so that the right amount of stress broke it down. There are other bridges and passageways that are very old and in need of replacement or repair.
This should never happen. The Departments of Transportation in every state are charged with the upkeep of these structures. Instead of performing repair or replacement, the politicians used the money for their own purposes; in many cases they parceled out favors to those who could help them get re-elected.
Now, those same politicians who allowed the collapse of our infrastructures are telling us that we don’t have the money to repair or rebuild them and we must look to outside investors. These investors are becoming more and more consortia of foreign entrepreneurs. They are negotiating leases of our roadways, for instance, with highly favorable terms. In many cases they organize their companies so that they are considered non-profits and will never pay taxes into the cities and states where they invest.
These consortia will exercise, through their sponsors in federal, state and local governments, the right of eminent domain. This right was greatly expanded by the Supreme Court, led by Justice Stephen Breyer, and gave state and local governments the right to expropriate private land. The original right of eminent domain envisioned the taking of private property only for purposes of benefiting the general population. It was never envisioned as a right to take private property to turn it over to a private entity which could make money from it after it had been condemned.
Perhaps the most infamous of these deals is the Trans-Texas Corridor, with a passageway the width of four football fields. It will carry cars, trains, and trucks and will run parallel to 1-35. The deal will hand over the toll rights to Cintra, a Spanish investment entity, with rights to own the tolls for fifty years after it is built. Citizen activists in Texas fought hard to deny this deal, but the clout of Governor Perry’s backing pushed it through, unless legal action prevails, a long shot.
An example is the Virginia Department of Transportation’s decision to lease the 8.8 mile Pocahontas Parkway to Transurban, an Australian investment consortium, which lease it signed June 29, 2006. This agreement leases the toll road for 99 years for a one-time payment of $548 million. It entails the construction of an extension to the Richmond International Airport. A proposal is to extend a $150 million construction credit to the consortium by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Was the U.S. Department of Transportation alarmed at this selling off of America’s assets? Former Secretary of Department of Transportation, Norm Mineta, has been quoted as saying, “We are like a poker game inviting people to the table and saying, ‘Bring money when you come’”. So much for federal oversight.
What about your state? Are your assets, paid for by your taxes, being sold or leased out from under you? If you live in one of these states, at last count, some of your infrastructure could be up for grabs:
Alaska, Alabama, Colorado, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana,
Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.
These deals could not be made without the complicity of the politicians who have been elected to represent We the People. In Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels in the first part of 2007 announced that his state, along with Illinois, would build the Illiana Expressway, from Illinois’ 1-57 into Indiana. Daniels was experienced at such deals, as he shepherded 2006’s largest road privatization deal, the handing over of the 157 mile Indiana Toll Road to a consortium of MIG and the Spanish road operator Cintra. The deal involved the payment of $3.8 billion for a 75-year lease. Goldman Sachs acted as Indiana’s financial advisor to secure this deal.
The governor also said he intended to go ahead with the controversial extension of 1-69 as part of the NAFTA highway to Mexico. Indiana would rely on private funds for a 75-mile bypass through five counties in the southern part of the state.
Was the governor representing the citizens of Indiana, who own those properties after paying taxes on them for decades? There is a lot of money at stake. Could it be these government “servants” are also profiting from these deals, one way or another?
Other questions arise:
Who is responsible for maintaining these roadways, etc.?
Will the long suffering taxpayer be on the hook for maintenance?
Who is liable for poor maintenance or shabby construction?
Can an American citizen sue these foreign entities for damages?
What kind of tolls will be enacted:? Will there be any limit on these charges?
Who sets the tolls and limits on them?
Since the deals have been enacted without the general public being aware of them, what are the details?
Just how many of these deals are in the works or already consummated?
When the Dubai Ports deal became public, Americans were outraged to think that our government would sell off six major ports, giving the responsibility of national security mainly to a foreign government. There is a law, Exon-Florio, that attempts to protect against such acquisitions by foreign governments. The statute grants the president authority to block pending or proposed acquisitions of “persons engaged in interstate commerce in the United States” that may threaten to degrade national security. Congress later further stipulated that the process be applied “in any instance in which an entity controlled by or acting on behalf of a foreign government seeks to engage in any merger, acquisition or takeover which could result in control of a person engaged in interstate commerce in the United States that could affect the national security of the United States”.
Exon-Florio gave President Bush wide authority to block the giveaway of our infrastructure to foreign entities. National security was on the minds of the Congress that formulated these laws. When Red China wanted to buy Unocal, the outcry was enough to stop it. When the Dubai Ports deal was made public, the outcry was enough to stop it, we presume. Since the committee overseeing these deals, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., (CFIUS), operates behind closed doors, it is near impossible to know for sure. At the time of the Dubai Ports deal, CFIUS had approved 1500 of them, and denied only one.
Bill Gertz, in a Washington Times article of October 4, 2007, reveals a proposal of Bain Capital Partners to buy 3Com, which makes equipment used by the Pentagon to block computer hackers, including those from the Chinese military. Gertz writes:
“Bain Capital announced last night that it will submit the $2.2 billion deal for
review before Treasury’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).”
Yes, this is the same infamous CFIUS that was willing to let the Dubai Ports deal go through and the same group that saw nothing wrong in selling Unocal to Red China.
The Rip van Republicans are showing some signs of life in this case, however. Bill Gertz writes:
“Republican Reps. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan and Duncan Hunter of California wrote to Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr. formally requesting that CFIUS conduct a security review of the deal, which was announced by 3Com last week.
Both lawmakers, the ranking members of the intelligence and armed services committees, respectively, expressed ‘alarm’ at the proposed merger because of Huawei’s close ties to the Chinese government.…….
Also yesterday, Sen. Christopher S. Bond of Missouri the ranking Republican on the Senate Select Committee on intelligence, said yesterday that Treasury should review the 3Com-Huawei deal………
Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, said the 3Com-Huawei deal raises more red flags than the Dubai Ports World deal and called on the Bush administration to provide information about the 3Com deal to congressional leaders and request action from Congress if needed………
Government officials concerned about the deal have doubts about a Treasury review, because Mr. Paulson is a former executive at Goldman Sachs, which is advising 3Com on the deal. White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten also was a Goldman Sachs executive”.
Talk about incestuous relationships!
But the Republicans are not in control of the House and Senate. Where are the Democrats? Is this deal okay with them?
Also, it is worrisome that President Bush has so much power to either squelch or move these deals along. So far, he and his own CFIUS have shown little inclination to turn down any deals until public opinion forces them to do so.
And so the selling of America goes on, piece by piece, right out from under the ownership of We the People.
Barbara regularly writes for CapitolHillCoffeeHouse. She also appears in California Chronicle, Border Patrol, and Citizens Caucus. Her primary interest is illegal immigration, but she writes about other subjects as well.
Barbara lives in a large city on the West Coast. Her loyalties are with God, family, country, heritage and borders.
She enjoys music, painting, poetry and song writing.