As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, April 13, 2009

But Only A Step

You have to consider this a victory for the Gates/Obama effort to radically shift expenditures in the Defense Department.

Bloomberg reported over the weekend that Levin is bullish on the proposal. "It's the right direction," Levin said. "This is how can we be armed more effectively at a more affordable cost."

Levin added that the committee would tackle the plan several weeks from now, starting with testimony from outside experts. In the meantime, he's taking issue with the claims of certain Republicans that Gates and the Obama administration are trying to gut the defense department.

"Secretary Gates is not going to disarm America," Levin said. "President Obama is not going to disarm America. The question is: how can we be effectively armed?"

I agree with Levin's assessment while saying once again that this is only a step, and would not address the profound inequity in the budget between defense and non-defense discretionary spending. We do not need more weapons of mass destruction when that money could be channeled into clean energy or health care.

That said, I do agree with David Axe that the claims about 95,000 jobs being supported by the F-22 is completely bogus, and a symbol of what garbage reformers have to deal with to make progress in this area.

Problem is, that 95,000 number counts indirect employment at firms for whom the F-22 program is just one of many clients. And it also counts Lockheed assembly workers who are in high demand for other aviation projects. In fact, ending Raptor production today might not result in a single unemployed aerospace worker.

Consider Lockheed’s plant in Meridian, Mississippi:

“As far as the facility here in Meridian is concerned, there are only about 20 workers devoted to the manufacturing of the tail assembly on the Raptor,” [plant manager Joe] Mercado added. “That is out of a total work force of almost 200 people. I don’t mean to lessen the importance their jobs mean to the families of those 20 people. It is very possible we could transition those workers to the C-130 product line, which is the major contract we have. But would the loss of the Raptor contract cripple us here in Meridian? No.”

It’s the same across the U.S. aerospace industry. A year ago the industry was worried about huge labor shortages. Shutting down the Raptor line would see thousands of workers snapped up for active production lines churning out F-16s, F-35s, C-130s and modernized C-5s for Lockheed, not to mention the prospect that industry rivals Boeing and Northrop might lure Lockheed workers for their own active production lines for the F-15, F/A-18 and others.

I personally wouldn't have a problem with losing some production jobs, or shifting them to building high speed rail cars. But the misinformation really grates on me.

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