I was biking home along Riverside Drive after a great evening of campaigning on Morningside Heights, when who should I espy on the sidewalk? None other than my opponent Jerry Nadler!
He was with a nurse and his wife, who is ill, so I didn’t want to be intrusive, but as he was lagging behind, I went up to him, mentioned I was running for congress and offered him a flyer.
“What district?” he asked.
“This very one,” I replied.
“Oh, “, he said taking the flyer, “what do you think of the incumbent?”
“I like some of his position,” I responded, “but I think there are some new ideas (like basic income) he hasn’t kept up with. And then there is the tunnel…”
“What don’t you like about the tunnel?” he asked, inviting me to walk with him.
“I like the fact it would reduce truck congestion, but it will cost a lot of money and there’s a shipping law which, if we revoke, would be a much better solution.” I was of course referring to the Jones Act, which makes shipping between US ports prohibitively expensive. Repealing it would allow a large part of truck freight to go by cheaper and more environmentally-friendly ship instead.
I would hope Jerry, having served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, knew I was referring to the Jones Act, but he asked, “What law?”
“Its the law that gets the spotlight every time Puerto Rico has a destructive hurricane,” I responded. I thought this would connect the dots, but again he demurred, so I said the Jones Act.
“That’s a shipping law. This is land transport,” he responded, finally acknowledging familiarity with the Jones Act and ignoring that ships can substitute for trucks.
“Yes, but why do we send just 2% of our freight by ship, whereas Europe ships 40%? And why has freight on truck, rail, and by ship between US and Canada and Mexico grown, while US to US shipping has actually decline?” I persisted.
I could tell he was losing interest and a couple of constituents came up and gave him an exit. They asked if he was campaigning after which I interjected that I was. A giggle was had by all and I departed.
The Jones Act may seem like an obscure law, but it is the swamp writ large. It benefits a coterie of well-connected companies and unions who funnel oligopoly profits to the politicians who protect them. You cannot be on the side of light and support the Jones Act. Jerry wants to compound this error by foisting an (at least) $10 billion expense on New York which would rip up neighborhoods for years. It will never get built, but this type of politicking is why electeds like Jerry have to go.