Spot Checks
Jude Wanniski
October 19, 1993


DOLE & HAITI: Senator Bob Dole's proposal to require congressional approval of U.S. military intervention in Haiti is being read either as a step toward isolationism (The New York Times on the left) or a congressional infringement of executive power (The Wall Street Journal on the right). Instead, it should be seen and welcomed as the initiation of an historic debate to define the principles and processes of the U.S. role in the New World Order. Dole, himself, says he would oppose his own proposal if he were President, but that the issue should be faced squarely to find the right blend of responsibility between the executive and legislative branches of government, as well as the policy framework appropriate in a post-Cold War world. Until these issues are resolved in Washington, the rest of the world will remain adrift, with the bureaucrats at the U.N. trying to fill the void. As part of the debate in Washington that Dole is trying to foster, there has to be discussion of all the international institutions that evolved during the Cold War -- the IMF and World Bank, as well as the U.N. -- a discussion that will be resisted by the ideological supporters of these institutions within the Clinton Administration.
HAITI: Those of you who watched MacNeil-Lehrer or CNN last night saw General Cedras explain patiently a dozen times what is holding up the Governor's Island agreement process for him to step aside for President Aristide: The agreement called for a chronological sequence that requires the Haitian Parliament to formally absolve the Haitian military for its role in the '91 coup. In other words, Cedras does not trust Aristide. Nor should he. Aristide's 7-month performance as president was abysmal, dominated by his lust for revenge against his opponents in the business community. Haiti's military/security forces want the U.S. to guarantee them a protective cloak against further Aristide retribution or perfidy. The American press corps does not seem interested in these fine points, as they mess up the wonderful confrontation that the Clinton Administration has blundered into. We have the makings of another Waco, with U.S. warships menacing the most impoverished nation in the hemisphere. Before there is another exchange of gunfire that requires our warships to incinerate Haiti to protect the people from General Cedras, there should be some answers to the questions Dole is raising. If it weren't for him, the U.S. Marines might already be going door-to-door cleaning out the thugs in Port-au-Prince. Rats! What a great story that would have been!

RUSSIA: The current issue of BusinessWeek is filled with frightening promises of unimpeded Shock Therapy by Boris Yeltsin's finance chief, Yegor Gaidar. We're not so sure Yeltsin is going to carry through, though. The military/industrial complex that backed Yeltsin in his showdown with parliament knows Yeltsin and Gaidar have to persuade the IMF/World Bank that they are following the script -- if they are finally to get their hands on all that western cash aid. They have a lot more room to maneuver, though, as the Clinton Administration is stuck with Czar Yeltsin, with no parliament left as an excuse to withhold the billions in foreign aid. We're told everyone of importance left in Moscow is also aware that Senator Dole has questioned the IMF/World Bank approach, which gives Yeltsin that much more flexibility. 

HEALTH CARE: It's hard to believe, but all at once the energy behind Clinton's health-care reforms has evaporated. The utter political incompetence of Ira Magaziner, the "brains" behind the immensely complex scheme, has created an enormous embarrassment for the political staff in the White House. Magaziner released the details of the plan without having it vetted by the political people, who would have told him it would scare the bejesus out of the American people. There is actually one provision embedded in the plan that carries criminal penalties for doctors who see patients on the side! House Minority Whip Newt Gingrich assures those worried about this madness that the plan has crashed. The issue remains to nag us, but as the health-care crisis was manufactured in the first place, it really does not have the legs to seriously threaten the political economy. 

NAFTA: As we noted last week, the GOP will not vote higher taxes to finance NAFTA, and the Administration will have to pull back from yet another blunder. The Mexico City stock market is reaching higher ground every day, not because it thinks NAFTA will pass, but because the Salinas government is about to eliminate the capital gains tax for all financial assets. The House is now supposed to vote November 17. I'd guess it will be delayed until the White House can drag enough Democrats into the fold. The smart money is still betting on passage.