Today’s Washington Post editorial presents the no-brainer argument against the outdated law that bars foreign-flagged and foreign-built vessels from shipping goods between American ports. It notes, interestingly, that Rep. Charles Djou, R-Hawaii, argued against the Jones Act during his successful run for Congress last month, as it makes the cost of living much higher for Hawaiians:
Mr. Djou is preparing a bill to exempt Hawaii. If FedEx can move cargo across the country in European-made Airbuses, why can’t a boat built in, say, Canada, ship wheat from Los Angeles to Honolulu?
The White House maintains that President Obama’s refusal to waive the law for the Gulf oil spill cleanup is no big deal. Even if its impact is minimal, it’s still a big deal because it means the administration’s obeisance to organized labor is prompting it not to do everything it can do about the oil spill. If the Jones Act is making operations more difficult for even one foreign vessel that could help — say, by restricting its area of operations or where it can dock when not at sea — then Obama is clearly not doing all he can.
If it’s really no big deal, then why hasn’t Obama waived the Jones Act?