U.S. Politics and the Global Economy: Corporate Power, Conservative Shift

By Ronald W. Cox; Daniel Skidmore-Hess | Go to book overview

such diffuse organizations as the Chambers of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Business Advisory Council have taken strong positions in favor of the agreement.

However, the extent of interest group agreement around NAFTA is a product of the regional nature of the agreement, which attracts different multinationals for different reasons. Whereas multilateralists see it as an important step for reinvigorating GATT, regionalists view it as additional leverage against foreign competition. The likelihood of such a powerful free trade coalition emerging in another, nonregional context is minimal at best. Equally interesting is that even with such a high degree of unity in the corporate community over NAFTA, the agreement is politically divisive, with nationalists being led by the unlikely bedfellows of organized labor and Ross Perot in opposing the accord. If, in fact, multilateralism is in part the product of interest group pressure, then the future of the global trading regime looks increasingly shaky in the 1990s.


NOTES
1
The Reagan campaign of 1979 borrowed from many of the same financial and corporate elites who had supported the Goldwater campaign in 1964. At its core was a group of western businessmen that included Jack Wrather, an independent oilman and director of several corporations, among them Continental Airlines, Capitol Records, and Muzak; Joseph Coors, the archreactionary head of Coors Brewery and a major donor to right-wing foundations, including the Hoover Institution; Earle Jorgenson, a director of the Jorgenson Steel Company, Northrup, Kerr-McGee Oil, and the American Iron and Steel Institute and a trustee of Cal Tech; William Simon, former treasury secretary under Nixon, and later served on the directorship of Dart Industries, Citibank, Xerox, and the Hoover Institution. By 1979 Simon was one of the ideological giants of the corporate right as president of the Olin Foundation, which aggressively financed conservative authors throughout the later part of the decade. Also important to Reagan was foreign policy adviser Richard Allen, whose support for dramatic increases in military spending can be traced to his close ties to pro-Israeli lobbies. Allen, like many other Reagan advisers and, later, policy officials, was a member of the Committee on the Present Danger's executive committee, a lobbying arm for multinational firms, domestic military contractors, and former Pentagon officials who championed dramatic increases in military spending. For useful background, see Philip Burch, “Reagan, Bush and Right-Wing Politics, in Paul Zarembka, ed., Research in Political Economy (Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 1997).
2
For an account of the increasing internationalization of the U.S. economy and the corresponding growth of the political power of U.S.-based international finance, see Jeff Frieden, Banking on the World: The Politics of American International Finance (New York: Harper and Row, 1987), esp. pp. 196–246. For the growth of international political organizations linked to international finance and influential in promoting a neoliberal agenda, see Stephen Gill, American Hegemony and The Trilateral Commission (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), esp. pp. 220–231. For a discussion of the increased structural position of

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