In a recent town hall meeting State Senator Joe Hardy asked the audience what their concerns where.  One lady from the audience answered – jobs and the economy.  Senator Hardy’s response was that the Ritchie Brother’s auction lot north of Las Vegas wasn’t as full of used equipment as it was in earlier years so the economy must be better.  And he was right.  Used heavy equipment from bankrupt domestic businesses is finally drying up after years of sitting in auction lots.   Our 0-2% slow growth economy is better than when it was in free-fall.

However, Senator Hardy failed to give any reason why.  Is it because President Obama’s policies have restored the American economy?  I don’t think you can convince any business owner on Mesquite Blvd. of that.  I don’t think any of the 20% unemployed believe that.  So what can be the reason our economy is no longer in free fall as it was from 2001 to 2008?

The root cause is that Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) expired in 2007 and the Democrat congress didn’t trust then President Bush to stop making bad trade deals that shipped 8 million manufacturing jobs overseas and closed 57,000 small manufacturing businesses in America.  So yes, when TPA was allowed to sunset in 2008, our economy has stopped its steep decline because no new fast tracked trade agreements passed since.  However, we are now stuck in a no growth, jobless recovery that won’t end until we address the trade deficit.

Some blame the housing crisis for the economic meltdown of 2008.  Others believe that over-regulation of our economy and high taxation was the cause.  Still others, including me, believe that these are all manifestations of the root cause….our economy shrank because we lost 30% of our production capacity which is the foundation of our economy.

With a smaller economy, we can’t afford the same level of governance putting pressure on federal, state and local government revenues.  Also as a result of a smaller economy and increased poverty our leaders provided sub-prime mortgages to people who could no longer afford a home.  This led to the banking crisis and subsequent bailout of the financial sector.

President Obama, in spite of objections by the vast majority in his party, is working with some Republicans aligned with Wall Street and trans-national corporations who seek TPA authority to keep their current offshore operations viable.

This is the same model that shrank our economy from 2001-2008, cost millions of jobs and gave us 6-7 years of economic stagnation.  Passing another agreement will only serve to off-shore more American jobs, close more businesses and continue our economic malaise unless strong safeguards are added to prevent currency manipulation.

TPA would mean that Congress would cede their constitutional duty and responsibilities to President Obama so he could negotiate another Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), in secret.  This would give Congress a small window of time to pass the agreement on an up or down vote without amendments or debate.

Over 80% of modern “trade” agreements are about topics other than tariffs and quotas. Unelected trade officials negotiate changes to other federal, state and local laws. Examples include financial regulation, copyrights, patents, immigration, food safety, energy policy, labor and government procurement.

Fast Track eliminates several floor procedures, including Senate unanimous consent, normal debate, cloture rules, and the Senate filibuster.  It requires only a simple majority vote in each chamber for enactment, violating Article II (the treaty clause) of the Constitution….”He (the President) shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur.”

U.S. Congressman Cresent Hardy (NV-4) campaigned on stopping currency manipulation and fixing our huge trade deficit with countries that practice protectionism, such as China, Japan, Korea and Germany.  Now that he is in DC, he may be wavering and recently signed a letter of intent to vote for TPA along with 27 of 47 freshmen in the House.

The Wall Street/trans-national corporation contingent gathers the new freshmen together every two years to convince them to keep this “Ponzi” scheme going.  The good news is that in each of the last three Congresses, they were able to convince fewer and fewer of these newbies.

In the last few days, Lucy Flores and other Democrats have announced that they plan to run against Congressman Hardy in 2016.  If Hardy votes to pass TPA, this will lead to automatic passage of TPP and could become an issue in the next campaign after campaigning to fix our trade problems and currency manipulation in particular. It is hard to say how much of a factor this was in his 2014 campaign.  But, siding with President Obama on TPA and ignoring the pain being felt on Main Street will not serve him well in his next campaign.

There is still time to let Congressman Hardy know that the majority of his constituency is struggling to stay in business or find work and convince him to vote no on TPA.  If you wish to voice your opinion on this, contact his Washington office at 202.225.9894.

Frank Shannon served in the U.S. Army, was an engineering/operations manager for AT&T for 27 years, was the owner of a small manufacturing business for 23 years, served as Colorado Chair of the Coalition for a Prosperous America and moved to Mesquite in 2013.