Could the Jones Act become part of the national conversation leading up to the election?

In an op-ed in the conservative New York Post Saturday, Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) criticized President Barack Obama for waiving the act dozens of times, effectively sending jobs overseas.

The act requires that U.S.-flagged ships with American crews transport any and all goods between two U.S. ports. It’s particularly important in Hawaii because so much is brought in by boat, and limiting the competition for those trade routes would conceivably drive up the cost of living in the islands.

The counter-argument, from Grimm’s op-ed:

The law is critical to helping ensure a robust domestic maritime industry — one that that operates quietly, efficiently and safely, all the while moving billions of dollars worth of commerce on our inland waterways and along our vast coastlines.

In so doing, the industry provides thousands of family-wage jobs that bolster communities all across the country.

This is especially important today, when our fragile national economy is still struggling to recover.

In 2010, then-Rep. Charles Djou (a Republican) suggested that the law be suspended to allow foreign vessels to help with the cleanup effort for the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Sen. Daniel Inouye (a Democrat) criticized the idea.

— Michael Levine

(Photo by Flickr user photohome_uk)