Kansas Senator Speaks Plane Truth About Aviation Manufacturing in the U.S.
Posted by admin on 10/01/2009
Kudos to Republican Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, who apparently read my blog last week warning the GOP to wake up and smell the job loss. As our economy and our workers try to power through the recession, the Senator brings up a critically important un-partisan question: should U.S. tax dollars from U.S. workers be spent to support a foreign defense company making American military aircraft, or should U.S. tax dollars from U.S. workers be spent to support a DOMESTIC defense company making American military aircraft? And not just any random European defense contractor either, but one that has been recently cited by the WTO for illegal subsidies. The answer, for most people, is “duh.” In mid September, the WTO found in favor of the United States in a case brought by the United States Trade Representative (USTR) alleging that illegal subsidies to European airline manufacturer Airbus/EADS allowed that company to outbid an American company (Boeing) in a contract to provide our military with new airborne refueling tankers. Because of these subsidies, the Government Accountability Office overturned the original Air Force contract to Airbus in 2008. Despite a win in this case (brought the U.S. Government), the U.S. Air Force (a branch of the U.S. Government) seems to be ignoring the subsidy ruling (in favor of the U.S. Government) when it released its latest Request for Proposal for these tankers last Friday. After the ruling, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley stated that the U.S. victory in the WTO case “won't be a factor” in the Air Force’s selection of its new refueling tanker. Huh? In an oped in last Sunday’s Wichita Eagle, Senator Brownback noted the importance of America’s aircraft industry to our economic viability and points out that the entire U.S. Government should be bound by the WTO decision. The aircraft manufacturing industry has suffered heavy job losses in the last decade. These include layoffs in all aviation sectors; small plane (Cessna) and helicopter (Sikorsky) as well as major commercial and military manufacturers Lockheed, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman. Senator Brownback rightly points out that illegal European subsidies have had a huge role in shutting Lockheed and Northrop just about entirely out of the commercial airline business. At one point, nearly one third of all income in the Wichita, Kansas area was related to the aviation industry – now, layoffs and unemployment. The people in Kansas get it – as does their senior Senator. American contracts mean American jobs. An American contract for the new airborne refueling tankers means American jobs. Questions? Why does this seem to be a complicated calculation for Air Force Secretary Donley? Good for Sam Brownback for breaking out of the GOP pack and addressing both adherence to trade laws and the importance of manufacturing jobs. Ambassador Kirk of USTR needs to introduce himself to Mr. Donley of the Air Force. And in the meantime, lets hope more Republicans follow Senator Brownback’s lead.
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