Labor Unions Behind the Refusal to Waive the Jones Act?

By Andrew McCleese

The President of the United States was up to his old tricks on Tuesday night when he addressed the nation with his plan to clean up the Gulf of Mexico and prevent future spills.  These old tricks were the usual; read words off a teleprompter, avoid the central issues, misdirect the current crisis to achieve an ancillary agenda and claim total competency while blaming everybody else.  There were some highly inaccurate statements in the President’s speech even by his standards, however the most glaring is the claim that the Federal government is taking all the steps they can to protect the coastline and the fragile Gulf region.  This is simply not the case.  The Federal Government has routinely refused viable methods (see previous post here) with the most egregious example being the refusal to waive the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 also known as the Jones Act.   An Administration so fascinated by the power of executive fiat is even stuggling to satisfy the Left due to their lack of response and Executive dictation in regards to the Gulf spill.

In his Tuesday address to the nation, President Obama used the Gulf of Mexico tragedy to twist the facts, bend the truth, and attempt to capitalize on a national disaster to push job-killing energy tax legislation. Here are six mistruths presented by the president.

However, the president has not taken the first and easiest step to allow other countries to assist in the clean-up efforts by waving the Jones Act. Based on the 1920 Merchant Marine Act all goods shipped between U.S. ports must be transported in U.S.-built, U.S.-owned and U.S. -manned ships – yet another gift to Big Labor. President George W. Bush waived the Jones Act to allow assistance from foreign countries during the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita almost immediately.

Mr. Obama started by saying, “We will fight this spill with everything we’ve got…we will do whatever’s necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy.”

Mr. Obama’s refusal to waive the Jones Act to allow assistance from foreign countries is drawing suspicions that the real reason for this decision is one of appeasement of his political base.  Objections to the suspension of the Jones Act may actually originate with Big Labor Unions according to the James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation.

“Cause this is a big thing for unions.  The unions see it as protecting jobs. They hate when the Jones Act gets waived, and they pound on politicians when they do that. So are we giving in to unions and not doing everything we can, or is there some kind of impediment that we don’t know about?

For a more thorough analysis of the government response to the Deep Horizon accident see the Heritage Foundations Special Report below.

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