January 21, 2008

7-Year Plan Aligns U.S. With EU Economy

Six U.S. senators and 49 House members are advisers for a group working toward a Transatlantic Common Market between the U.S. and the European Union by 2015.

The Transatlantic Policy Network – a non-governmental organization headquartered in Washington and Brussels – is advised by the bi-partisan congressional TPN policy group, chaired by Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah.

The plan – currently being implemented by the Bush administration with the formation of the Transatlantic Economic Council in April 2007 – appears to be following a plan written in 1939 by a world-government advocate who sought to create a Transatlantic Union as an international governing body.

An economist from the World Bank has argued in print that the formation of the Transatlantic Common Market is designed to follow the blueprint of Jean Monnet, a key intellectual architect of the European Union, recognizing that economic integration must inevitably lead to political integration.

As WND previously reported, a key step in advancing this goal was the creation of the Transatlantic Economic Council by the U.S. and the EU through an agreement signed by President Bush, German Chancellor Angela Merkel – the current president of the European Council – and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso at a White House summit meeting last April.

Writing in the Fall 2007 issue of the Streit Council journal “Freedom and Union,” Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., a member of the TPN advisory group, affirmed the target date of 2015 for the creation of a Transatlantic Common Market.

Costa said the Transatlantic Economic Council is tasked with creating the Transatlantic Common Market regulatory infrastructure. The infrastructure would not require congressional approval, like a new free-trade agreement would.

Writing in the same issue of the Streit Council publication, Bennett also confirmed that what has become known as the “Merkel initiative” would allow the Transatlantic Economic Council to integrate and harmonize administrative rules and regulations between the U.S. and the EU “in a very quiet way,” without introducing a new free trade agreement to Congress.

No document on the TEC website suggests that any of the regulatory changes resulting from the process of integrating with the EU will be posted in the Federal Register or submitted to Congress as new free-trade agreements or as modifications to existing trade agreements.


January 18, 2008

Montana Governor Drives Real ID Rebellion

Montana governor Brian Schweitzer (D) declared independence Friday from federal ID rules and called on governors of 17 other states to join him in forcing a showdown with the federal government which says it will not accept the driver's licenses of rebel states' citizens starting May 11.

If that showdown comes to pass, a resident of a non-complying state could not use a driver's license to enter a federal courthouse or an SSA building nor board a plane without undergoing a pat-down search, creating massive backlogs at the nation's airports and almost certainly leading to a flurry of federal lawsuits.

States have until May 11 to request extensions to the Real ID rules. They require states to make all current identification holders under the age of 50 to apply again with certified birth and marriage certificates. The rules also standardize license formats, require states to interlink their DMV databases and require DMV employee to undergo background checks.

Extensions push back the 2008 deadline as far as out 2014 if states apply and promise to start work on making the necessary changes, which will cost states billions with only a pittance in federal funding to offset the costs.

Last year Montana passed a law saying it would not comply, citing privacy, states' rights and fiscal issues.

In his letter (see below) to other governors, Schweitzer makes clear he's not going to ask for an extension.

"Today, I am asking you to join with me in resisting the DHS coercion to comply with the provisions of REAL ID, " Schweitzer wrote. "If we stand together either DHS will blink or Congress will have to act to avoid havoc at our nation's airports and federal courthouses."

But Homeland Security spokeswoman Laura Keehner says DHS has no intention of blinking.

"That will mean real consequences for their citizens starting in May if their leadership chooses not to comply," Keehner said. "That includes getting on an airplane or entering a federal building, so they will need to get passports."

Keehner says DHS's policy won't change even if Georgia -- one of the 17 states that has signaled strong opposition to the rules -- declines to apply for an extension.

If that scenario came to pass, every Georgian who flies out through the nation's busiest airport -- Atlanta-Hartsfield International -- would have to be patted down by Homeland Security agents and have his carry-on bag hand-screened, resulting in massive delays.

Keehner also suggests that patted-down citizens will turn their wrath not on the feds but on their state government.

Schweitzer wants Congress to step up and pass alternative legislation that would stop Real ID and re-instate a commission that was working on driver's license rules before the REAL ID Act was slipped into defense legislation in 2005. That legislation assigned DHS the task of setting the rules single-handedly.

Keehner is adamant that the rules will make the country safer and that the price tag is not too high. "The ability to get false identification must end, and Real ID is that step," Keehner said.

Privacy groups counter that the rules create a de-facto national identification card and won't stop terrorism or identity theft.

Schweitzer struck back at DHS statements he obviously considers arrogant.
"I take great offense at this notion we should all simply 'grow up'," he wrote, referring to remarks from DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff about border rules regarding Canada. Schweitzer says those remarks "reflect DHS continued disrespect for the serious and legitimate concerns of our citizens."

A DHS policy maker suggested earlier this week that Real IDs could also be required to buy cold medicine and to prove employment eligibility.

Schweitzer's letter went out to the governors of Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Arizona, Hawaii, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington.


January 08, 2008

Totalization is a Bad Idea

Through a Freedom of Information Act Request, a private group recently obtained a copy of a 2004 agreement between the United States and Mexico that will allow hundreds of thousands of noncitizens to receive Social Security benefits.

The agreement creates a so-called “totalization” plan between the two nations. Totalization is nothing new. The first such agreements were made in the late 1970s between the United States and several foreign governments simply to make sure American citizens living abroad did not suffer from double taxation with respect to Social Security taxes. From there, however, totalization agreements have become vehicles for noncitizens to become eligible for U.S. Social Security benefits. The new agreement with Mexico would make an estimated 160,000 Mexican citizens eligible in the next five years.

Ultimately, the bill for Mexicans working legally in the U.S. could reach one billion dollars by 2050, when the estimated Mexican beneficiaries could reach 300,000. Worse still, an estimated five million Mexicans working illegally in the United States could be eligible for the program. According to press reports, a provision in the Social Security Act allows illegal immigrants to receive Social Security benefits if the United States and another country have a totalization agreement. Read more...