Parties Line Up To Oppose IMF Fund
Jan. 13, 1998
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Liberals and conservatives are lining up to defeat a Clinton administration request to Congress for billions of dollars for the International Monetary Fund, whose coffers have been depleted by economic bailouts in Asia.
Some participants say the request for nearly $20 billion may meet the fate of ``fast track'' trade legislation last November when Congress voted down authority for President Clinton to negotiate trade deals that it could not change.
The request includes $3.5 billion for an emergency bailout fund that Congress failed to approve last year and more than $16 billion for the U.S. share in new IMF lending power.
Sen. Lauch Faircloth, R-N.C., chairman of the Senate Banking subcommittee on financial institutions, kicks off a round of panels and hearings on the issue Wednesday. He wants the Republican-controlled Congress to reject new funding for the Washington-based international lending institution.
Rep. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, and groups ranging from Friends of the Earth to the conservative Heritage Foundation plan a meeting on IMF funding Thursday. Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, R-N.Y., chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, plans a formal hearing after Congress returns Jan. 26 with Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and other officials.
``We must be vigilant and aware of what is taking pace but insist on discipline and thoughtful action before taxpayer dollars are put at risk,'' D'Amato said in a statement Monday on the bailouts.
Sanders is predicting a bitter debate with Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich on one side and the liberal-conservative alliance on the other, saying taxpayer money should not be put at risk for ``socialism for the rich.''
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., is preparing a bill that would change the way the IMF gets its money by getting international banks to impose a user fee on certain transactions, an aide said Monday.
Marijke Torfs, a director of the environmental group Friends of the Earth, said ``the left and the right are together'' in opposing IMF bailouts. ``The right says bailouts interfere with the market. The left says taxpayers should not pay for them because they cause job losses in countries receiving them and overexploitation of natural resources.''
Ian Vasquez, of the conservative Cato Institute, said neither the American public nor Congress has liked IMF bailouts and predicted opposition inside and outside Congress would grow during the next few weeks.
The bailouts ``are an expensive, bureaucratic and unjust solution to what would occur quickly and fairly under market conditions,'' Vasquez said. ``If investors have bet the wrong way in a country they should take their medicine and not get rescued by the IMF.''
Two influential Republicans, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Archer, R-Texas, and Jack Kemp, the 1996 Republican vice presidential candidate, expressed doubts in weekend television interview programs about IMF bailouts in Asia and whether Congress will authorize more money for them.
Defending the bailouts, Rubin said last week he hoped Congress would approve the request for new IMF funding ``because our economic interests are so much at stake.'' The administration rushed his deputy, Lawrence Summers, to Asia for urgent consultations this week with the region's governments on the financial crisis.
The administration also wants to keep the 182-nation IMF strong because it is the only organization that can step into a crisis as the lender of last resort. Since July the IMF has arranged rescue packages totaling $120 billion for Thailand, South Korea and Indonesia, committing $32 billion of its own resources.