Some 77 Senators and 285 Congressmen are co-sponsors of the Jackson-Vanik-Milis Amendment which would bar most-favored-nation tariff benefits to the Soviet Union. In the face of this clear Congressional intent, President Nixon met at the White House recently with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko and promised him to make a “diligent” effort to overcome Congressional opposition.
Most-favored-nation treatment (MFN), which the Soviets badly want and the President promised, means that Soviet goods would “be subjected to the same tariff schedule that applies to goods from Americans best trading partners. This would provide the Soviets with a whole range of reduced rates, particularly on manufactured goods.
The advantages of MFN to the Soviets can be seen in the items which they would like to sell us more of. MFN would reduce the duty on cameras from 45 percent to 12.5 percent, on gold jewelry from 80 percent to 12 percent, and on vodka from $5 per gallon to $1.25 per gallon.
It strikes me as somewhere between inappropriate and unconstitutional for the President of the United States to meet privately with an official of a foreign government and promise him to mount a campaign to outwit the majority of Congress. Our President was not elected to work “diligently” to obtain favors for foreign governments from the American Congress and taxpayers.
About the same time that President Nixon was making his pledges to Gromyko, the World Bank was holding its annual meeting in Nairobi in Kenya. World Bank president Robert McNamara and U.S. Treasury Secretary George Shultz agreed there that the United States should put up one-third of the World Bank money for the next three years, which means continuing at approximately our current rate of $375 million per year.
Secretary Shultz pledged that the Nixon Administration will “strongly urge Congress to continue doling out U.S. funds to the World Bank. U.S. representatives at the World Bank meetings felt they were making a huge concession to growing Congressional opposition to such giveaways by persuading the foreigners to accept U.S. handouts to the World Bank stretched over a four-year period instead of three years.
Such deals made with foreigners are almost always contrary to the best interests of American financial, economic or military security. It was the same way last year when President Nixon signed the SALT Agreements in Moscow, and then arrived at the Capitol in a helicopter to rush their approval through Congress. Likewise, last year, the Soviet grain deal was announced with theatrical press conferences; and, as an afterthought. Congress was expected to provide the taxes to finance the grain subsidies and credits.
Administration officials consistently make their deals with foreign governments, and then undertake to fulfill those pledges by pressuring and propagandizing Congress. Our Government officials need an elementary course in the United States Constitution, which clearly provides that treaties must be made with the “advice” as well as the consent of the Senate, and that all money bills must “originate” in the House of Representatives, and not in Moscow or Nairobi.