Guest Commentary By: Senator Orrin Hatch and Senator John Cornyn
Americans despise taxes. After all, one of the key issues that paved the way for the American Revolution was the unfair taxation that King George III levied against the Colonies.
Now some in the US Senate want to say yes to an international tax. It would be the first time in history that an international organization would possess taxing authority, and it would amount to billions of American dollars being transferred out of the US Treasury.
The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, or the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) is the vehicle through which such taxes would be imposed on U.S.-based commercial enterprises.
The treaty that Reagan refused to sign in 1982 is reappearing once again in the Senate. The truth is, LOST contains numerous provisions that hurt the U.S. economy at a time when we need more jobs – not fewer.
Under the guise of being for “the good of mankind, ” LOST would obligate the United States to share information and technology in what amounts to global taxes and technology transfer requirements that are really nothing more than an attempt to redistribute U.S. wealth to the Third World.
At the center of these taxes and transfers is the International Seabed Authority (ISA), a Kingston, Jamaica based supra-national governing body established by the treaty for the purpose of redistributing cash and technology from the “developed world” to the “developing world.”
Ceding authority to the ISA would mean that the sovereignty currently held by the U.S. over the natural resources located on large parts of the continental shelf would be lost. That loss would mean lost revenue for the US government in the form of lost royalties that the U.S. government collects from the production of those resources. According to the U.S. Extended Continental Shelf Task Force, which is currently mapping the continental shelf, the resources there “may be worth billions if not trillions” of dollars.
In case proponents of LOST have not noticed, the US is over $15 trillion in debt, and we still have more than 20 million Americans who can’t find a job. The last thing we need to do redistribute funds from our country to our economic and strategic competitors.
To make matters worse, the US would have no control over how or to whom the taxes and technology would be redistributed.
Undoubtedly funds that rightfully belong to the American taxpayer would be sent to corrupt governmental regimes, make dictators wealthier, and could even be used for activities directed against the United States and our interests.
Under the treaty, the transfer of these funds does not end with nation states. These royalty revenues would even be extended to “peoples who have not attained full independence or other self-governing status.” That means groups like the Palestinian Authority and potentially other groups with terrorist ties.
Proponents of the treaty will claim that the technology transfer portion of the treaty has been significantly changed. In truth, nations with mining and resource recovery technologies like the United States will be obligated to share those technologies with Third World competitors, and that is one of the many issues, which trouble those of us opposed to the treaty.
In other words, US companies would be forced to give away the very types of innovation that historically have made our nation a world leader while fueling our economic engine.
Under the best of US economic circumstances, the Senate should say no to such an egregious breach of the trust Americans have placed in us. Our current economic struggles are all the more reason to say no to a treaty that is all cost and no benefit.
Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch is the ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee. Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn is a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee.