- The Washington Times - Monday, July 10, 2006

When President Bush sits down with his counterparts from the other Group of Eight (G-8) nations this weekend in St. Petersburg, Russia, there will be many important items on the agenda. Among them will be discussions of the North Korea threat, the Iranian threat and the threat to the global economy from rising energy prices. There may even be a discussion of the ominous behavior of the host, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, as he inexorably eliminates the last vestiges of democracy and re-establishes central control over all facets of his country’s economic and political life.

This year, as at past G-8 meetings, there will be another, enormously momentous item in play — a threat that will receive, all other things being equal, little if any public notice. Call it a hidden agenda.

Unless Mr. Bush asserts his adamant opposition, it is likely the G-8 leaders will again, as they did last year, endorse in some fashion the imposition of global taxes.

Most Americans would of course reject such a notion, as has Mr. Bush in the past. For starters, as a general rule, we don’t like taxes very much. Then there is the natty little problem we may have no say over the size or character of global taxes. These amount to “taxation without representation,” something our Founders considered so intolerable they put on the line their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to be free of it. Worst of all, global taxes are well understood by their proponents as a way to address what they see as grievous ills. Chief among these is the sovereignty exercised and the concentration of wealth enjoyed by nations like the United States.

For example, in an article distributed last year by the Project Syndicate (a media vehicle supported by George Soros’ Open Society Institute), World Bank economist Branko Milanovic declared, “Global redistribution through taxes that would be levied by an international body may seem far-fetched today, but the logic of development that we are witnessing — particularly the move away from nation-states as the locus of sovereignty — suggests that it may eventually come to pass.”

In fact, what the global taxers euphemistically call “innovative sources of financing” and “solidarity levies to fund development” are already being imposed. On July 1, France began an international tax on airline travel and nine nations have announced they will follow suit. Other initiatives under active consideration include global taxes on: gasoline, multinational corporations, carbon dioxide emissions, “securities transactions” and “portfolio investments,” use of air corridors and maritime shipping and currency transactions.

The marketing of the French initiative is instructive. It is billed as a “tax for Third World medicine” and the funds it will generate will ostensibly help finance a new United Nations agency (dubbed UNITAID) being created as an international drug purchasing facility. Since just about everyone — and most especially President Bush — is keen to combat the spread of diseases like AIDS, packaging a global tax as a way greatly to increase the funds for this is as seductive as it is cynical.

For this reason, it seems likely several G-8 members will seek to fashion some sort of endorsement of this latest initiative. After all, in addition to France, Britain and Germany are members of the U.N.’s newest advocacy cabal, “the Leading Group on Solidarity Levies.” Presumably, the proponents will try to use the same gambit they employed at last year’s meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland: burying the G-8’s imprimatur in an annex of the final communique where it will go unnoticed by most observers, but be exploited ever after by the global taxers as a definitive statement of support.

Cliff Kincaid, the indefatigable president of the U.N. watchdog, America’s Survival, has pointed out that the prospects for sovereignty-sapping and financially burdensome international taxes are being further enhanced by the recruitment to this cause of deep-pocketed individuals besides George Soros and Ted Turner (the latter’s foundation actually has for years had employees working in the U.N. Secretariat). These include Bill Gates (and, by proxy, Warren Buffett) and Bill Clinton. The Gates and Clinton foundations were represented at the Paris conference the French government called last February to promote “innovative development financing.”

The only hopeful news is that the Congress has begun to awaken to the danger represented by these initiatives — and the precedents they are creating. The House of Representatives has adopted legislation “that prohibits the Treasury from paying U.N. dues if the organization attempts to implement or impose any kind of tax on U.S. citizens.” Unfortunately, this would not necessarily prevent global taxes from being inflicted through the action of member states, as is being done now by the French and their friends.

Today, however, Sens. Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican and Ben Nelson, Nebraska Democrat, will introduce legislation to penalize the U.N. by withholding American funding if it advocates, promotes or tries to impose global taxes on U.S. citizens. They are to be commended for taking this initiative and the full Senate should adopt it at the earliest possible moment.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bush needs to be alive to the hidden agenda item at the G-8 meeting. He should instruct his subordinates to ensure all its products reflect his stated objection to global taxes for whatever purpose — taxes that would help make a corrupt and malfeasant U.N. far less accountable, and far more prone to the sorts of activities that erode our sovereignty and impede our efforts to protect freedom and the people who cherish, and aspire, to it.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.

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