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Business-Managed Democracy

“Business-managed democracies are those in which the political and cultural arrangements are managed in the interests of business”

Sharon Beder

Business-Managed Government

The Alliance for GATT Now


The Alliance for GATT Now, the successor to the MTN Coalition, had a multimillion dollar budget and sought to ensure congressional approval of the GATT agreement. The Alliance served as an umbrella group for a range of free-trade business coalitions and front groups including the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the American Business Conference, the US Chamber of Commerce, Consumers for World Trade (CWT), the Coalition of Service Industries (CSI), Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT), the US Council for International Business (USCIB), and the Zero Tariff Coalition.


The Alliance for GATT Now campaign included Washington lobbying, grassroots campaigning, advertising and public relations, and utilised many of the same lobbyists who had helped win the NAFTA campaign. The Alliance activities were overseen by Texas-Instruments chief Washington lobbyist, John K. Boidock, whose Washington office became “a GATT war room”. Chairmanship of the Alliance was shared by two former congressmen who had become lobbyists. They were regular National Public Radio (NPR) commentators, causing Ralph  Nader to accuse the Alliance of indirectly buying NPR broadcasting time by doing this.


The Alliance membership list quickly grew to 400 companies in the first few months and it eventually claimed its members included more than 200,000 small and large businesses, associations and organizations. Its membership list was beefed up through membership of organisations such as the Business Roundtable who signed up its corporate members unless they explicitly asked to be excluded. Business Week reported: “It is flooding Congress with phone calls from CEOs in their districts.”


One of the Alliance’s campaign tactics, designed by Edelman Public Relations, was to publish a deck of cards, like baseball trading cards, that were sent to each congressperson, senator, state governor and others. There were seven ‘all-star’ cards showing individuals who championed the GATT agreement, including the three presidents in power during the Uruguay Round: Reagan, Bush and Clinton. A card for each state showed the benefits of GATT in that state; the top exports for the state; the jobs that would be gained; and the extra revenue that would be reaped. For example the card sent to New Jersey politicians featured a picture of medicine capsules, symbolising the state’s pharmaceutical industry, and stated that GATT would hit a home run by increasing exports from and creating more jobs in the state. Each card had the GATT Now logo on it.


The Alliance also delivered a booklet to members of Congress entitled “Countdown to GATT” and organised corporate ‘fly-ins’ to bring executives to Washington to lobby Congress personally. Business Roundtable leaders each took on some of the lobbying effort. For example, Monsanto coordinated lobbying in its home state of Missouri and in the chemical industry whilst Boeing did the same in Washington state and the aerospace industry. Editorial support in the newspapers was organised by Harry Freeman of American Express who had chaired the MTN Coalition.

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