WASHINGTON — Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.), taking a tough stand on a key foreign policy issue as she presses a potential presidential bid, Wednesday strongly denounced the Reagan Administration for failing to persuade U.S. allies to lend significant assistance in patrolling the Persian Gulf.
The liberal congresswoman also proposed assessing a "defense protection fee" for every country in the free world, charging them for U.S. military protection. That protection, Schroeder reasons, is what allows those countries to use international sea lanes and airspace to send goods to the United States, which results in U.S. trade deficits.
Schroeder, the first woman to seriously consider entering the 1988 race, made her comments at a breakfast session with reporters that provided an early glimpse of her possible campaign platform. Stressing the need to "just get tough," she said that "instead we wimp out. We roar like Rambo and act like Bambi."
Several other members of Congress have complained that the allies are getting the benefits of gulf oil while the United States, which imports less than 7% of its petroleum from the region, is bearing the costs of keeping the supply flowing.
The Administration is planning to escort 11 Kuwaiti tankers through the Persian Gulf in its determination to keep open international sea lanes used to carry oil from the petroleum-rich region.
"At some point, we have to realize that America, with 6% of the world population, cannot stretch the flag that thin," Schroeder said. "At some point, the flag splits."
Under her "defense protection fee" plan, Schroeder said allied countries would be charged a percentage of their gross national product, with some exemptions for newly industrialized countries. Depending on how high the percentage is set, the United States could raise up to $150 billion, nearly enough to balance the federal budget, Schroeder said.
'Hide Behind Caspar'
She blasted Reagan for allowing Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger to tell Congress on Tuesday that the allies "are doing everything we could ever expect. I mean, the allies are all going to hide behind Caspar" because the United States has given them an excuse for not helping to protect gulf shipping, she said.
On another matter, the 46-year-old congresswoman, who had co-chaired former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart's 1988 presidential campaign, said Hart had betrayed her. She said that, before she accepted her position with the Hart campaign, she had asked Hart about rumors of his marital infidelity. He denied the rumors.