The corporate lobbyists flew in from all over the country. An official at Washington National Airport said there were more corporate planes on the runway than he had ever seen. Merrill Lynch took out a full page ad in Roll Call. Major corporations sent giant gift baskets to congressional offices.
What was the occasion? Tax reform? No — it was 1993, and we were in the throes of the fight to stop the North American Free Trade Agreement.
American corporate leaders had come up with a new business model: Shut down production in Toledo or Dayton, grab a tax break for the road, ship their production to Reynosa, Mexico, or Wuhan, China, and then sell their products back to the United States.
These corporations and their flacks in Congress wrote NAFTA — and every trade agreement since then — to aid and abet this business model that exploits workers and hollows out entire communities.
These agreements are written behind closed doors by corporate lobbyists, while American workers are locked out. That’s how we end up with trade agreement after trade agreement that props up this business model and sells out workers.
This week, we have a chance for a reset.