DOLE: ‘CLOSE’ ON GATT; LINKS SUPPORT TO CUT IN CAPITAL GAINS TAX
Byline: Joyce Barrett
WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole (R., Kan.) said Sunday he is “getting close” to an agreement with the White House on GATT but tied a cut in the capital gains tax to his negotiations.
It was the latest development in the continued high-stakes maneuvering over GATT, a pact that could signal some of the century’s most profound changes in textile and apparel trade and launch a new age of borders without quotas and intensified global rivalry.
Appearing on ABC’s “This Week
With David Brinkley,” Dole said he met over the weekend with Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen, White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta and U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor.
He did not spell out the depth of the cut he is seeking in the capital gains tax but said he is looking for some “assurances” from Bentsen on the matter.
Asked what kind of assurances he wanted, he said, “The best I can [get].”
Dole also said he wasn’t sure GATT would acheive passage even if he did vote for it, adding, “It’s going to be a very close vote.”
He reiterated his stand that the important question is the World Trade Organization and its effect on U.S. sovereignty.
Following Dole’s TV appearance, a White House spokesman said the administration is weighing all of his proposals.
Later, on CNN’s “Sunday Edition,” Leon Panetta, White House chief of staff, said the Administration continues to oppose any capital gains tax cut, but: “I think we are on the way to gaining [Dole’s] support.”
It was late Friday that Dole sent a proposal to the White House that included his provisions for protecting U.S. sovereignty against adverse WTO decisions. At the same time, he broadened the deal to seek a presidential promise of a lower capital gains tax.
Meanwhile, negotiations continued on a provision in the GATT implementing bill that Dole says would unfairly benefit telecommunications companies.
Another Dole proposal, one that would eliminate the minimum for interest paid on savings bonds, was scrapped and replaced with a provision dealing with patent review, a spokeswoman for the Senator said.
Dole’s support is viewed by the Clinton administration, as well as by GATT backers in Congress, as the key to winning congressional approval of the GATT Uruguay Round. Without his backing, the Senate won’t be able to muster the 60 votes needed to overcome objections to the GATT funding plan that are likely to be raised before the pact even comes up for a vote.
Apparently aware of the power he is wielding over GATT, Dole raised the ante for his vote last week and proposed that Clinton promise to go along with a cut in the capital gains tax rate in exchange for his support of GATT.
As one former trade official with the Bush administration said about the negotiations that were drawn out all last week, “I’d be stunned if the Senate Republicans give Clinton GATT and get nothing in return. I can’t imagine them doing that.”
Dole’s legislative proposal on the sovereignty question would create a process for the U.S. to withdraw from the WTO, the new ruling body created under GATT to enforce worldwide trade practices. Under Dole’s plan, a commission composed of five appellate judges would review WTO decisions adverse to U.S. trade practices. The commission would be given 60 days to issue a ruling on whether the U.S. should withdraw from the WTO based on the adverse decision. Congress could then follow with a vote within 30 days of the commission’s ruling.
If Congress agreed with the commission, the U.S. could then withdraw from the WTO. If agreement is reached with the White House, Dole’s legislative package would not be voted on until next year, when the 104th Congress convenes. Dole would then be the Senate majority leader.
Because GATT is considered under fast-track rules, it cannot be amended. Any adjustments, therefore, must be made in separate legislation.
Congress is expected to return for a lame duck session and vote on GATT’s ratification after Thanksgiving. The House is to vote Nov. 29, and the Senate is expected to vote Dec. 1. The House is expected to ratify GATT by a comfortable margin.
— Fairchild News Service