The economy is heading south and people are being laid off. Congress-critters and governors, and politicians in general, are being asked to come up with “shovel-ready” projects that will put people to work. But what about people that can’t or won’t shovel?
The Pentagon has some jobs programs too. Some of them involve getting into uniform, and enlistments are up. Others involve working for military contractors like KBR. We covered them in the piece about finding newly-unemployed George Bush a job.
There are other Pentagon jobs programs that go right into every congressional district. They include military bases and military procurement. They say all politics is local, and in this time for intensive economic recovery planning congress-critters are interested in military procurement now more than ever.
Remember the peace dividend? Forget it. War pays better dividends, and you need to buy a lot of stuff to fight a war. So if the country is at war, and it is at war thanks to some people who profit from it, and if you need even more stuff to fight wars yet uninitiated, then military procurement has to be high on the jobs program list in every US congressional district.
Call them the killer jobs programs.
In these programs there are a couple of shining stars, the F-22 Raptor fighter plane and the Virginia-class submarines. Both of them provide case-book studies on how the Pentagon rules congress and thus the country.
The Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor is a fighter aircraft that uses stealth technology. It is primarily an air superiority fighter, but has multiple capabilities that include ground attack, electronic warfare, and signals intelligence roles. The primary user is the US Air Force and 127 have been built. The F-22 program cost is $65 billion and the unit cost is, depending upon production rate and cost amortization, varies from $141m to $171m. The F-22 is a fifth generation fighter which can carry bombs, cannon and missiles while flying at Mach 2.25.
The F-22 was approved initially to give the Air Force a next-generation stealthy aircraft to evade ever improving enemy air defenses. But a funny thing happened: Our enemies’ air defenses stopped improving.
So, today, even a casual examination of recent air combat involving the United States (the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq) proves that the existing fleet of about 700 F-15s and upwards of 1500 F-16s remain, undeniably, unbeatable, and will remain so well into the future. At nearly $200 million per plane (versus about $25 million for the F-16), the F-22 would be by far the most expensive fighter plane ever built.
And the F-22s that have been built need some work.
WASHINGTON, Nov 20 (Reuters) – The U.S. Air Force fleet of F-22 Raptors, designed to be the world’s top fighter jet, needs more than $8 billion dollars of upgrades to be made “capable and affordable to operate,” the Pentagon’s top arms buyer said on Thursday.
There’s no need for additional aircraft and they cost a bundle — might the program be cut by the new administration?
Boeing and Lockheed Martin are pouring money into a publicity campaign to maintain funding for the F-22 Raptor, worried the fighter-plane program may be on the chopping block of the Obama administration.
According to John M. Donnelly, when lobbyists for Lockheed Martin Corp. visited congressional offices in recent weeks to brief members or staff on the merits of their F-22 fighter, the top item on their agenda had nothing to do with the plane’s military attributes.
For the first time, “Economy/Jobs” topped the list of F-22 benefits. “F-22 Economic Impact is Significant,” said one briefing slide in the “F-22 Advocacy Briefing.” It cited the 95,000 jobs created by the program in 44 states and its more than $12 billion annual impact on the economy. Superimposed on that data was a faux newspaper clipping about the 159,000 jobs the U.S. economy had lost in September. The plane’s military benefits were now a secondary part of the case and jobs the primary focus — instead of the other way around.
This campaign has been joined by many in congress, not because there is any need for the plane, but because of the jobs (and profits) involved.
In “The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives” Nick Turse describes the diverse F-22 manufacturing base.
In addition to its Marietta Georgia plant, Lockheed produces the F-22 Raptor at facilities in Palmdale, CA; Meridian, MS; Fort Worth, TX; and even at a Boeing plant in Seattle, WA. For added insurance, Lockheed parcels out production of the parts and subsystems in truly national fashion. In all, Lockheed boasts that one thousand suppliers in forty-two states play a role in equipping the F-22.
Global Security states an even more far-reaching contractual network.
# Approximately 240 firms in 37 states are considered major subcontractors
# More than 1,150 firms in 46 states and Puerto Rico, along with firms in seven international countries make up the F-22/F119 subcontractor team.
The dispersal of the F-22 manufacturing and the publicity campaign have paid off. The manufacturers’ campaign has been joined by many in congress, not because there is any need for the plane, but because of the jobs involved. Congress has stood tall for the F-22 killer jobs program.
In the House:
About 200 members of Congress have signed a letter urging President-elect Barack Obama to continue building F-22 stealth fighters.
And in the Senate:
Senators are pressing President-elect Obama to allow the Air Force to continue buying F-22 Raptor fighter jets.
Deciding whether to buy more F-22s after the final aircraft on order is delivered at the end of 2011 is one of the first strategic and business decisions Obama’s Pentagon leaders will have to make after Inauguration.
A group of 44 senators — 25 Democrats and 19 Republicans — sent Obama a letter with the request. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), a defense authorizer who represents a state where Lockheed Martin builds the fighter plane, and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a defense appropriator whose state is home to Boeing’s operations, headlined the letter. Boeing is a subcontractor for the F-22.
“Continued F-22 production is critical to both the national security and economic interests of our country,” Murray said in a statement.
“critical to . . .the . . . economic interests of our country” — hmmm.
Moving over to the Navy we see a similar situation with submarines, specifically the $2b per copy Virginia-class submarines with sections that are built in two different places, again to spread the jobs and double the congressional support. The Newport News Virginia facility builds the stern, habitability & machinery spaces, torpedo room, sail and bow, while Electric Boat in Connecticut builds the engine room and control room.
The central submarine sections are built in Joe Courtney‘s district in Connecticut, and Joe was successful in doubling submarine production from one to two.
Washington, Nov 13, 2007 – Congressman Joe Courtney announced that the White House has signed H.R. 3222, the Fiscal Year 2008 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill, into law today, which includes funding to begin ramping up Virginia-class submarine production to two submarines per year. Congressman Courtney released the following statement:
“This is a great day for southeastern Connecticut and an important victory for our nation’s defense infrastructure. This victory seemed elusive a year ago and just a dream for many years, but I am pleased to be able to announce that this part of the fight is now over. We have set a new expedited pace in delivering the most advanced ship to our nation’s naval fleet, which will secure our defense jobs in Connecticut.”
Courtney was recognized for his efforts by the local newspaper, the Hartford Courant.
Joseph Courtney, 55 and a Democrat from Vernon, should be returned for a second term to the House. The sprawling district has many needs, and Mr. Courtney has been responsive to the major ones. He has gotten more shipbuilding work at Electric Boat in Groton. . .
Unfortunately for Joe, because the Pentagon doesn’t want nor need these submarines, Courtney’s plans weren’t realized.
. . .the newest class of attack submarines, the Virginia program built in Connecticut, was scheduled to be produced at a modest two-sub-a-year clip starting in 2002 at a cost of $2.5 billion per submarine. That schedule has been pushed back over and over again to 2012, by the Pentagon and the last few Congresses. . .
But Joe didn’t give up — his district needs jobs.
WASHINGTON, Dec 29 2008 – Some members of Congress are seeking President-elect Barack Obama’s support for producing eight more Virginia class submarines.
Connecticut Rep. Joe Courtney organized a joint letter with more than two dozen House members urging Obama to back doubling production to two new ships per year beginning in 2011, one year ahead of the Navy’s previous schedule. The letter is to be sent Tuesday.
“As you evaluate current acquisition programs and make the tough decisions ahead, we encourage your strong support for the Virginia-class submarine program — a platform of critical importance to our nation’s current and long-term defense,” the lawmakers wrote.
Joe’s efforts paid off as a result of his joint letter.
As expected, the Navy announced on Monday a $14 billion contract to buy eight new Virginia-class submarines.
In making the announcement, Rear Adm. William Hilarides, program executive officer for submarines, told a group of reporters at the Pentagon that more than 12,000 companies of all sizes located in 48 states take part in building the Virginia-class subs.
“This contract will provide good jobs not just in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Virginia, but in thousands of communities across the country as our vendors gear up for increased production on the Virginia class,” Electric Boat president John Casey said in a statement.
So these are just two examples of killer jobs programs for the production of un-needed military hardware being promoted by industry and congress.
The question arises: Is military spending actually good for the economy?
The simple answer: No.
Report Shows Increased U.S. Military Spending Slows Economy
May 1, 2007
Washington, DC: The Center for Economic and Policy Research released a report today estimating the economic impact of increased U.S. military spending comparable to the spending on the Iraq war. The report, presenting the results of a simulation from the economic forecasting company Global Insight, shows the increased level of military spending leads to fewer jobs and slower economic growth.
Just think of the contribution the workers on these military machines could make if their efforts were redirected to something useful to Americans.
What do you think?
news report, Jan 23 2009:
Lawmakers may insert earmarks to buy new military equipment into a massive economic stimulus plan being pushed by the Obama White House, said Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the Senate minority leader.
“There has been talk of a military equipment portion of the economic stimulus bill,” McConnell said during a Jan. 23 appearance at the National Press Club in Washington.