Obama's cutting of defense jobs

Washington Post:

Some of the nation's largest defense contractors, labor unions and trade groups are banding together to argue that the Obama administration is putting 100,000 or more jobs at risk by proposing deep cuts in weapons programs.

The defense industry and its supporters argue that the proposals by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates will increase unemployment during a historic economic crisis. Why, they ask, would President Obama push hundreds of billions in stimulus spending to create jobs only to propose weapons cuts that would eliminate tens of thousands of them?

"It doesn't make sense that our government is looking at trying to save or create jobs at the same time it's talking about cutting something like this," said Jeff Goen, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers chapter in Marietta, Ga., where Lockheed Martin does final assembly on the F-22 Raptor fighter jet, which is slated to be cut.

Lockheed and other contractors predict that up to 95,000 direct and indirect jobs are at risk because of Gates's plan to halt production of the F-22, which is built and assembled across 48 states but which has never been used in combat. Boeing says thousands more positions could be lost if the Pentagon halts production on other programs such as the C-17 cargo plane, which is assembled at a 5,000-worker plant in Long Beach, Calif.

The clash poses a nettlesome political challenge for Obama, who relied heavily on Democratic union support during his presidential campaign but who is backing the ambitious efforts of his GOP defense secretary to remake the Pentagon budget. Opposition on Capitol Hill is being led by Republicans who hope to enlist the support of union-friendly Democrats to quash many of the proposed cuts.


But Gates and his generals have also tailored the budget to include growth in other programs that may lower the intensity of opposition, and has successfully brought Air Force generals in line on cutting back the F-22 and other programs that the service has historically championed. Although Maine would lose some jobs with the shuttering of the F-22 program, for example, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) praised Gates for planning to build three DDG-1000 destroyers at General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works.


The criticism of Gates on Capitol Hill has been led by fellow Republicans, most of whom opposed Obama's stimulus plan but contend that defense spending is different. "At a time of economic difficulty, it makes no sense to take a strategically important weapons system and cap it and cost 95,000 jobs in a relatively short period of time," said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).


Gates told reporters this month that the changes will help create some jobs. He pointed to the F-22 as an example, saying that while 24,000 people are directly employed on that project, the F-35 already employs 38,000 and is projected to employ 84,000 by 2011.


Gates is not a Republican ideologue. He is a career bureaucrat that Republican presidents found talented. The story pays too much attention to his Republican past and not enough to the Obama administrations unwise push for defense cuts during a war. I think their best argument is to compare the cuts from these programs to the wasteful stimulus which has provided billions to groups like ACORN. That is an example of a sinkhole investment or worse.


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