Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) shops for American-made souvenirs at a Smithsonian museum in Washington, D.C. on June 8, 2011. (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call)

Sen. Sanders believes that our unfettered free trade policies have largely contributed to our shrinking middle class, job loss and the ever-widening gap between the rich and poor. If the United States is to remain a major industrial power, producing real products and creating good paying jobs, he believes that we must develop trade policies with Mexico, China and other countries that protect not just the CEOs of large corporations, but the working people of our country. ?“Nobody I know believes we should place a wall around this country. Trade is a good thing, but what we must begin doing is negotiating fair trade agreements that reflect the interests of working families in America, working families in other countries, and not just large multinational corporations and the CEOs who help write these trade agreements,” Sen. Sanders has said.

After the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Mexican agricultural sector has been decimated by cheap exports from American agribusiness. Poverty has increased, the middle class has declined and people are literally dying in the desert trying to flee Mexico for the U.S. It is not only Mexico and other developing countries that have been hurt by these unfettered pro-corporate free-trade agreements. It's also the working families in the U.S., who are now engaged in a horrendous "race to the bottom." Despite an explosion of technology and a huge increase in worker productivity, poverty in America is increasing, the middle class is shrinking and the gap between the rich and the poor is growing wider. In the past six years, millions of good-paying jobs in the U.S. have been lost as companies continue to shut down here and move to China and other low-wage countries.

“We cannot keep outsourcing our future to low-wage countries by passing even more unfettered free trade agreements.”

- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Sen. Sanders is also strongly opposed to giving any president “fast track” trade negotiating authority, which would allow the president to expedite and expand failed trade policies with no meaningful checks and balances from Congress. Fast track removes Congress from its constitutionally-mandated role in negotiating trade deals. It would pave the way for passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) which would force American workers to compete against desperate workers in Vietnam who are paid as little as 28 cents an hour. Sen. Sanders, along with eleven of his colleagues, recently sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Reid expressing outright opposition to “fast track” and imploring him to take a more comprehensive approach to addressing trade policy that best serves the needs of American workers and small businesses.