Remember when Sen. John McCain was the Republican you kinda sorta liked, at least up until the point where his 2008 presidential campaign put the Quitta from Wasilla on the national stage? How about that time when he proclaimed “I have to tell you. Sen. Obama is a decent person and a person you don’t have to be scared of as president of the United States,” in response to an angry crowd of Republican voters back in October of 2008?
Remember how you felt sorry for him in 2000 when Karl Rove unloaded an absolutely vile, disgusting smear campaign during the Republican presidential primaries that secured the nomination for George W. Bush? Heck, I even voted for him in those primaries, which was the last year that I voted for any national Republican candidate.
Well, rest assured that any sympathy or ounce of grudging respect you may have harbored for the guy thanks to his occasional refusal to go along with the rest of the GOP can now be safely tossed aside. Why? Because just like every other Senate Republican, he has no problem screwing over American workers if that’s what it means to make some extra money for corporations.
The shipbuilding industry, Mississippi’s largest private employer, is warning that an amendment Sen. John McCain filed last week to the Keystone XL pipeline bill could do serious damage.
The language in McCain’s amendment removes the requirement that vessels that operate exclusively in American waters be built in the U.S. The mandate is part of the Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act, which Congress passed in 1920. Beyond U.S. construction, the law also requires that ships subject to it be American-owned and crewed by U.S. citizens or permanent residents. (Source)
What does this mean for Mississippi and other states with ship building industries? It would devastate them. With the certain elimination of well-paying ship industry jobs, the losses would create a ripple effect in local economies in cities like Biloxi and elsewhere as the building would take place in foreign countries.
Shipbuilding advocacy groups say it would sink shipyards, including those on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
According to the U.S. Maritime Administration, shipbuilding represents 23,450 jobs in Mississippi. The industry’s economic impact to the state’s GDP is $2 billion, figures from the American Maritime Partnership show. (Source)
Taking $2 billion out of any state’s economy is harmful and in the case of Mississippi it would take more than 2% immediately out of the GDP, and even more as the loss of the industry creates further economic downturn in a state that already finished last in GDP growth in 2013. More than that, it would allow ships owned by foreign entities to operate exclusively in American waters which would put more than just ship building workers out of a job. This could mean that companies could replace many domestic offshore oilfield workers with foreign labor, which would be a big blow to areas like where I live here in Louisiana.
As much as conservative voters complain repeatedly about how President Obama is somehow hurting the economy (despite the fact Wall Street is doing great), it is actually politicians like Sen. John McCain who are shipping (pun not intended) their jobs off to foreign countries by removing protections like the Jones Act. Fortunately for the very people who hate him, President Obama intends to veto the Keystone XL pipeline bill that this amendment is attached to.
Here’s to hoping that one day, red state voters will wake up to the fact that corporations are not their friends, and neither are politicians like John McCain. I’m not going to hold my breath on this one though.
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