Jones Act lobby attacks Bloomberg editorials
by Michael Hansen, Hawaii Shippers Council, December 27, 2017
The American Maritime Partnership (AMP) posted to its website on December 22, 2017, their position paper, “Why the Bloomberg editorials missed the boat about the Jones Act,” which critiques the four editorials Bloomberg published between December 12th and 22nd 2017.
The AMP was formed in 1995 as the Maritime Cabotage Task Force (MCTF) to defend Jones Act cabotage in response to the Jones Act Reform Coalition (JARC) efforts to seek reform of the nation’s coastwise laws. The MCTF changed its name to AMP in February 2011 to adopt a name that would be more comprehensible by the general public. Today, AMP is the leading American maritime industry trade association as an IRS 501(c) (6) business league organization lobbying for support of and opposed to any reform of the coastwise laws and regulations. The AMP’s membership is made up of domestic shipowners, U.S. shipbuilders, and the maritime and shipyard unions.
The AMP’s critique of the Bloomberg editorials follows the usual arc of their attacks on anyone who criticizes Jones Act cabotage claiming the protection of America’s domestic maritime industry benefits the nation’s general welfare, is essential for national security and cites a laundry list of notable personages who support the current maritime regulatory system.
The AMP criticizes Bloomberg because their editorials “overstate the case against the Jones Act,” and they respond to Bloomberg with their own rank hyperbole.
Key excerpts from AMP:
These articles assert the unprecedented position that the Jones Act serves “no purpose.” Claiming the law provides absolutely no benefits to the nation completely ignores statements from senior military leaders who are among the most vocal supporters of the Jones Act. Senior officials at the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), U.S. Navy, and U.S. Coast Guard support the law because they clearly believe the Jones Act serves an important purpose: helping to secure our nation.
The assertion that the national security argument in support of the Jones Act “rings increasingly hollow” fails to acknowledge that military experts in the DOD and in Congress consistently state the Jones Act is essential to American security. They say the Jones Act contributes vessels, seafarers and shoreside workers, shipbuilding capacity, logistics support, and a national maritime infrastructure that is essential to our national security.
The pieces argue that the Jones Act adds costs for American consumers but fail to support their theses. Twice it cites to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) research in this area but never mentions that the ITC’s findings about Jones Act cost were called “unclear,” “uncertain,” “unverifiable,” “undeterminable,” “incomplete,” and “unpredictable” by the non-partisan GAO. The editors argue that the Jones Act adds to consumer prices in Puerto Rico, ignoring data showing the opposite.
The editors fail to account for the benefits that Puerto Rico receives from the Jones Act.
The opinions appear to be suggesting that costs could be reduced by allowing foreign shipping companies to carry cargo between two points in the United States outside of U.S. laws. There is no precedent for any company in any American industry to operate entirely exempt from U.S. laws in exclusively domestic commerce, but that is exactly what Bloomberg is suggesting in Puerto Rico and beyond.
The Bloomberg opinions overstate the case against the Jones Act, beginning with their argument that the Jones Act serves “no purpose,” and ignore facts that are inconsistent with their premise.