Webinar — Sen. Mike Lee on the Jones Act at 100: Is it time to chart a new course?
AEI Jones Act Webinar
by Michael Hansen, Hawaii Shippers Council, June 12, 2020
The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) streamed live on June 4, 2020, a two hour webinar, “Sen. Mike Lee on the Jones Act at 100: Is it time to chart a new course?” The webinar premiers a 25-minute guest interview with U.S. Senator Michael S. Lee (R-UT) and a 95-minute follow-up discussion with a four person panel made-up primarily of academics who have researched and written on the Jones Act.
The host of the webinar, Sen Lee’s interviewer and leader of the discussion is Dr. Vincent H. Smith, PhD., Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics, Montana State University, and a Visiting Scholar and Director, Agricultural Studies Program, AEI. Dr. Smith’s page on the AEI website contains links to ten reports he has participating in writing and relating to the Jones Act.
The four persons on the discussion panel were in order of first appearance:
(1) Dr. Anne Osborn Krueger, PhD, an economist who is currently the senior research professor of international economics at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. She was previously the World Bank Chief Economist (1982 – 1986) and deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund (2001 – 2006). During the Puerto Rico financial crisis of 2015, Dr. Krueger was the lead researcher and author of the “Puerto Rico – A Way Forward,” also known as “The Krueger Report,” commissioned by Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro García Padilla and issued on June 29, 2015. That report recommended that the commonwealth of Puerto Rico be exempted from the Jones Act, and that experience informs her view of the Jones Act as being anti-competitive and a barrier for U.S. businesses.
(2) Aaron D. Klein, MPA (Masters of Public Administration), is currently policy director of the Center on Regulation and Markets, the Bookings Institute, widely recognized as a left-of-center “think tank” philosophically allied with the Democratic Party. Klein served as deputy assistant secretary for economic policy, Treasury Department, during the Obama Administration, and prior to that as a Democratic staffer in the U.S. Senate. Klein is strongly supportive of the Jones Act noting that the U.S. has had cabotage laws since the first Congress after ratification of the Constitution in 1789.
(3) Mackenzie Eaglen is a resident fellow at AEI for defense policy. Prior to AEI, Eaglen worked on defense issues in the U.S. Congress and at the Pentagon. Eaglen’s view of the Jones Act is more nuanced and acknowledges there may be some need for reform.
(4) D. Robert (“Rob”) Quartel, Executive Chairman Of The Board, NTELX Inc., a technology company based in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Quartel was President of the Jones Act Reform Coalition (JARC) leading the organization throughout its 7 year history from 1994 through 2001. Prior to that, Quartel served as a Commissioner on the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). Quartel has been a long-time advocate for Jones Act reform and opines during the webinar that the most onerous aspect of the Jones Act is the domestic build requirement.
Although those appearing in the webinar do give a flavor of the debate over the Jones Act, they make a number of errors of fact and their statements should be reviewed thoroughly before referencing them. The length of the webinar makes it impractical to enumerate all the various errors.