I recently received an email from Delegate Bob Marshall lambasting the TPA/TAA/TPP issue that congress is grapling with. It was difficult to contain my frustration in the good delegates unforunate lack of understanding on the topic. The fact that he took time to fire off an email to further muddy the water for everyone is lamentable. Here are a few of Delegate Marshall’s points that I would like to address:

“If Obama’s trade proposal is such a good deal, why will Americans lose jobs?” Setting aside the merits/demerits of the TAA (of which there are a great many) this statement is full on unabashed protectionism and a lack of understanding regarding job market shift in a free market system. In a free market certain sectors of the economy grow which can cause others to contract. In the sectors of growth we often see increased hiring for new jobs. In those sectors that contract we see job loss. In a healthy economy the booming sector’s new job creation far outpaces the contracting sector’s job loss and lifts other subsidary markets up with them, creating even more jobs. This happens all the time. If the growth continues, the net job creation across the economy can be sizable but there will be job loss somewhere in the market. Free market followers believe free trade is good because the growth potential substantially outweighs the job loss potential.

We trade because the incoming product or resource is more afforable to trade for than to produce at home and we export products or resources where we have efficient (e.g. lower cost) production. Those areas where we have proficiency will see great growth (and job creation) if a market opens up overseas. It is sad that this must be explained to mostly Repbulican detractors. The Republican party has been a bastion of free trade for years. Granted, we do not know what is in the eventual trade agreement (The Trans-Pacific Agreement) but that is not what is before congress and won’t be for months.

“POLITICO notes that the TPA’s provisions are treated as national security secrets with tight restrictions on who can read the bill and under what conditions: ‘If you want to hear the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership [TPP] trade deal the Obama administration is hoping to pass, you’ve got to be a member of Congress, and you’ve got to go to classified briefings and leave your staff and cellphone at the door.'”

This is simpy a poor case of reading. Delegate Marshall conflates the TPA with the TPP. First of all, the full text of the TPA (and the TAA) have been online for days if not weeks (full text here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/1314/text?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22%5C%22hr1314%5C%22%22%5D%7D). The Politico article isn’t discussing the TPA, it’s talking about the Trans-Pacific Partnership or…TPP which is classified at the moment…and as I said above, won’t be voted on for quite a while.

Delegate Marshall then quotes Congressman Dave Brat “fatal conceit is to think that I’m smart enough to walk in a room and read 400 pages of legalese and believe it and know everything that’s in a trade bill that’s 400 pages long and digest it with everything that can go wrong…” Of course reading 400 pages in a short period of time would be tough but here’s the thing…the bills being considered before congress ARE NOT THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP! It’s the TPA and the TAA. The TPA section was all of 115 pages long. The TAA is 29 pages long. Surely we can agree that a Congressman can/should read a bill that short. And one great thing about the TPA (which passed) is that it requires that the eventual Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement be available to the public at least 60 days before a vote. Surely we can read 400 pages in 60 days?

So let’s be clear, the TPA is not the TAA and both of those are not the TPP. The Trans-Pacific Partnership may be a bad deal and if it is I hope Congess votes it down. But the TPA is simply setting the ground rules for eventual passage (or not). And on those ground rules, yes, let’s debate whether they are good or not but don’t let the protectionists in the Senate (Senator Sessions) muddy the waters and fear monger us into a frenzy.