Thursday, October 16, 2008

I like New Hampshire too!!!

I've lived in four states so far in my life and this is the first time in my memory a Vice Presidential candidate has visited the high school right down the street! I for one could not be any happier that Governor Palin likes the wonderful White Mountain state of New Hampshire! Despite all the liberty loving libertarians and constitution touting Ron Paul wannabes it tain't a bad place to reside.

Alas, I actually didn't make it to see Sarah Palin speak at Dover High School, home of the mighty Green Waves, but had I gone to see her stump speech yesterday on why we should vote for her and not the Democratic ticket it would have looked a little something like this...

Now I know Merchant Mariners are a conservative bunch. We don't like big government spending on welfare programs when it can be put to better use building up the Ready Reserve Fleet. And we certainly don't like the idea of paying any more federal and state tax than we have to for programs and services we utilize half as much as other citizens of this fine nation but this year I have found myself advocating the Democratic ticket to fellow sailors for one simple reason.

The track record of John McCain and the American Merchant Marine is not a friendly one. This small industry which depends on government subsidies and cargo preference laws survives in large part because of what congress decides to budget for these programs every fiscal year. If we want to keep the American Flag flying behind our ships, whether they are needed for national defense or not, than the following quotes epitomize the importance of not electing a "maverick" friendly to shipping interests whom are more than happy to flag out a fleet and hire on foreign officers.

From Maritime Executive Magazine: Presidential Candidates

September 8, 2008

Democratic Party presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama has given a clear and unambiguous commitment to the Jones Act, the Maritime Security Program and U.S. Cargo Preference laws.

It comes in the form of a letter to Michael Sacco, President of the Seafarers International Union which has endorsed Senator Obama for President.

In his letter, Senator Obama says "America needs a strong and vibrant U.S.-Flag Merchant Marine. That is why you and your members can continue to count on me to support the Jones Act (which also includes the Passenger Vessel Services Act) and the continued exclusion of maritime services in international trade agreements ..."

"To make sure our Armed Forces have the equipment and ammunition they need at the time the materiel are required, my Administration will solidly support the continuation of the Maritime Security Program ..."

"A strong U.S.-Flag commercial fleet needs our nation's Cargo Preference laws. Whether it is carrying needed goods to those overseas in distress or moving government-generated cargo, American Mariners aboard American ships make sure the job is done."

Read on to see what the candidates have to say on some of the issues near and dear to the maritime industry:



"The Jones Act is a vital part of our national defense and supports American workers. As President, I would fully enforce it. The Jones Act should be waived only under rare circumstances. I spoke out when the Bush Administration ignored the Passenger Vessel Services Act, which applies Jones Act requirements to cruise, ferry and excursion vessels, and contracted Carnival Cruise Lines, a foreign owned company, to house evacuees from hurricane Katrina. Not only did they earn a higher-than-normal profit, but they violated Federal law in doing so. As is required by law, I will only waive the Jones Act when necessitated by national security.

"Furthermore, maintaining the American merchant marine fleet is vital to our economy and national security. I would oppose any move to undermine this Act." (2008)


"I would like to see the Jones Act repealed, but I don't think that's likely. I don't think I would get twenty votes if I were to bring it to the floor." (1997)

"While [we] could argue about the magnitude of the cost [of the Jones Act], there is no doubt that the Jones Act adds costs to U.S. shippers, especially in areas where water transportation is the only economical shipping option, such as Hawaii, Guam and Puerto Rico." (1998)

"It appears that the Jones Act has a negative economic impact on American consumers, but more information is needed to accurately assess the magnitude of this impact, the national security value of the Jones Act, and the effects of various reform proposals." (1998)



"The Maritime Security Program helps ensure US-flag vessels are ready to meet our needs during times of war or national emergency and I support fully funding it. I support funding the Maritime Security Program so that it serves our nation's national security needs. If the GAO [General Accountability Office] or another independent body finds that the MSP program needs to be expanded, I will support expanding it to the size necessary." (2008)


"I appreciate the need for a U.S. merchant marine that we can rely on in time of national emergency. However, we have an obligation to make sure that taxpayers are not required to pay more than is necessary to meet that goal. . . . I believe we should institute a competitive procedure to determine which vessels should be included in the MSP program." (1996)



"Our cargo preference laws are an important way for us to regulate and support the maritime industry. Supporting the maritime industry allows us to ensure that we have the resources we need during times of ward and national emergency and maintains standards in the industry. I will continue to support cargo preference laws where they uphold our goals in shipping." (2008)


•In 1989, Senator McCain supported an effort by Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) to exempt food aid to Poland from the cargo preference laws.

•In 1990, Senator McCain supported an attempt by Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) to waive cargo preference if the U.S.-flag rate were more than 110 percent higher than the lowest foreign flag rate.

•In 1990, Senator McCain supported an attempt by Senator Steve Symms (R-Idaho) to allow the Secretary of Agriculture to waive cargo preference whenever the Secretary of Agriculture determines that cargo preference will result in a lost sale of agricultural commodities.

•In 1991, Senator McCain opposed legislation that would apply cargo preference to certain cash aid transactions.

•In 1993, Senator McCain supported a sense of the Senate resolution linking cargo preference and price gouging by U.S.-flag vessel operators.

•In 1993, Senator McCain supported an effort by Senator Hank Brown (R-Colorado) to place a cap on the rates charged under the cargo preference program.

•In 1996, Senator McCain supported an attempt by Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) to link the rates charged by U.S.-flag vessels under cargo preference to foreign flag rates.

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