Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, September 30, 2003, that was edited for clarity.

Watch Your World w/Cavuto weekdays at 4 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET.

TERRY KEENAN, GUEST HOST: My next guest wants to know where is the plan to rebuild America? He says for every dollar we spend on reconstructing Iraq, we should spend an equal dollar here at home as well.

Joining us now to explain is Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio of Oregon, who announced his amendment just a few hours ago.

Congressman, welcome. You're calling this the American Parity Amendment. Explain.

REP. PETER DEFAZIO (D), OREGON: Well, we have tremendous needs here at home. For instance, the president is about to put the second $50 million into the port of Umm Qasar, yet he had zeroed out dredging ports in my district. A new enclosed water system for Basra and Umm Qasar at a cost of $200 million, yet I have a city with 120-year old open water system that can't get federal funds.

So we are just saying this should be balanced. We have needs in the United States, some of which could be met by spending on trust funds, the highway trust fund, the FAA trust fund, the unemployment trust fund, and others where it might be prudent to look at borrowing money to invest in our country and put people to work here.

KEENAN: Yes. I mean, we have about a half trillion-dollar deficit right now. Why would it be prudent to go spend some more money here?

DEFAZIO: Well, the president wants to borrow $20.3 billion to build these things in Iraq. It's not going to put any Americans to work; maybe a couple consultants. They are pretty expensive. But it is not going to put Americans to work.

If you invest in a bridge here or a dam or something else that lasts 50 years, you can justify borrowing money for long-term capital expenditures in this country. Beyond that, we have $16 billion unspent in the highway trust fund. So all he has to do is spend on the trust funds. He doesn't have to borrow the money.

We have $4 billion unspent in the FAA trust fund, $16 billion in the unemployment trust fund. We are paying tens of thousands of Iraqis to not show up at their jobs to keep the peace in that country, yet I'm being told with the highest unemployment rate in the country, and the most persistent unemployment in the country in my district, we can't afford to pay them out of the unemployment trust fund. So some of these things wouldn't require borrowing at all.

KEENAN: Yet we have hundreds of thousands of Americans in Iraq, our troops there in harm's way right now. And this rebuilding to bring Iraq, at least into the 20th century, if not the 21st, seems fairly prudent, just in terms of protecting our troops.

DEFAZIO: But should they get it for free? I mean, remember, Paul Wolfowitz told us just a few months ago they're going to have $50 to $100 billion a year in oil revenues in short order. Maybe this should be a loan from the American people against their future oil revenues.

We can't afford to borrow the money and gift it to them. The soldiers who are over there today, they're going to come home to a jobless recovery, and they're going to come home to 30 years of bills. It's going to cost them 30 years of their work life to pay off these loans that are being taken out to rebuild Iraq. I think they're going to question it.

KEENAN: And you're not at all convinced, congressman, that if we rebuild Iraq it will come back to us in spades in terms of our security and also in terms of lower oil prices?

DEFAZIO: Lower oil prices? The United States has pushed and gotten Iraq into the OPEC cartel. I thought Iraq was maybe going to break OPEC. The OPEC cartel just dropped production.

They're jacking up prices, they're violating all the international trade agreements. And the Bush administration is supporting that, and applauding that we've gotten Iraq in the room to help fix prices. That is not going to give us lower oil prices.

KEENAN: When there 2.5 million barrels a day coming in on the market, prices could start to fall.

DEFAZIO: No, because they are joining the cartel, who all artificially ramp up or ramp down their production. They want to join the cartel, and we are encouraging that.

That is an illegal thing under the WTO. I've asked the president to complain to the WTO, but he doesn't want to do that. I guess he's afraid of Saudi Arabia.

KEENAN: All right. We're going to leave it there. Thanks for your insights on this. We appreciate it.


KEENAN: Representative Peter DeFazio of Oregon.

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