This Is No Time To Waive Jackson-Vanik

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The Center for Security Policy today urged President Bush to abandon any thought of waiving the Jackson-Vanik amendment under present circumstances. In a paper entitled Jackson-Vanik: Will Bush Reward Soviet Repression or Preserve Key Incentive for Reform, the Center illuminates the logic behind this landmark legislation and the compelling considerations that argue against waiving its provisions for the contemporary Soviet Union.

In particular, the Center believes that the following should be borne in mind by the Bush Administration:

  • For the United States to waive the Jackson-Vanik amendment at the very moment when the Soviet Union is in the initial stages of what may prove to be a comprehensive and brutal crackdown would be truly scandalous. It would communicate an indifference to Soviet repression that would be utterly inconsistent with American values and strategic interests. Even worse, such an action could be perceived as an incentive for still further repressive measures.

  • Waiver of Jackson-Vanik under these circumstances would also involve exposing the U.S. taxpayer to significant and unwarranted liabilities as a result of the effect a waiver of Jackson-Vanik would have on opening unprecedented Soviet access to American government-guaranteed loans and other aid subsidies. Since such assistance would be provided in the absence of necessary economic reforms, this money — like that associated with the savings and loan crisis — would essentially would be thrown down a rat hole.

  • What is more, waiving this amendment in the absence of such reforms could be perceived as a stupefyingly cynical reversal of a formal presidential commitment made just last July. Such a volte-face — coming as it would on the heels of others concerning direct negotiations with Saddam Hussein, high level meetings with the "Butchers of Tiananmen Square, and the "Read My Lips" pledge not to raise taxes — could permanently undermine the President’s credibility.


The Center urges President Bush to reject the counsel of interested parties — be they special interest groups that place unwarranted confidence in Mikhail Gorbachev’s longevity and his commitment to permit continued high levels of emigration absent a legal requirement to do so, or agribusinesses bent on making the taxpayer assume the sharply escalating risks associated with doing business in the USSR that their shareholders would otherwise be unwilling to assume.

Copies of Jackson-Vanik may be obtained by contacting the Center.

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