Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Republicans Are Hostile To "Buy American" But Will Trump Stop Lockheed From Moving F-16 Jet Production From Texas To India?


Over the last week Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) was one of several Democratic senators angered by the shipping out of the Buy America provisions from the Water Infrastructure bill. Friday he and Rob Portman (R-OH) sent letters to Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid, Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi reminding them that Buy American provisions are broadly supported by both Democrats and Republicans.

Brown: "American tax dollars shouldn’t be spent on Chinese steel. American infrastructure should be built with American products that support American jobs. Period." Portman backed him up: "We must ensure that tax dollars will continue to be invested in America, maximizing American jobs. Provisions like this one have already increased production, jobs, and capital investment in the steel industry, and it is critical that we continue policies that simultaneously improve our infrastructure and our economy." Among the senators signing on were progressives like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkley, Ed Markey, Brian Schatz and Tammy Baldwin but also conservatives like Joe Donnelly, Claire McCaskill, Joe Manchin and Jon Tester. But no other Republicans besides Portman.

And the letter didn't do the trick. McConnell and Ryan were adamant-- and not a word from Trump. Shred Brown, on Monday: "By stripping meaningful Buy America rules from the water infrastructure bill, Washington leadership is choosing China and Russia over Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. This was the first major test of whether Washington establishment Republicans would live up to President-elect Trump’s promises to put American products and American workers first-- they failed, and American iron and steel workers will pay the price."

Tuesday morning Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul said that "The trade deficit is a drag on growth and jobs in the goods-producing sector. It is one signal of weakness that speaks to our challenges in global competition. It will take more than a Carrier deal to save jobs here and bring some home. For that, we need aggressive economic policies, including a rebalance on trade policy, a tax code friendly to manufacturing and patient capital, and investments in our infrastructure, research, and workers."

Last month, right after the election. there was a provocative story in an Indian newspaper, Lockheed Martin won’t heed Trump, to land F-16s in India
President-elect of the US, Donald Trump, may have claimed that Americans are living through the “greatest jobs theft” in the history of the world, but Lockheed Martin seems to have other plans. The American aircraft-maker has started the groundwork with the hope that India would accept its offer of moving its F-16 fighter aircraft production line from the US to India. Trump believes that US companies were moving out jobs to countries such as India, China, Mexico and Singapore.

The offer comes with the rider that India buys the fighter. “We want to be prepared and that is the reason we have started the groundwork,” said Abhay Paranjape, director, Business Development, India, Lockheed Martin. "We have met representatives of 40 defence and aviation firms from across the country to discuss our offer on making F-16s in India," he added.

Earlier this year, Lockheed Martin made an offer to India that it would shift its only F-16 aircraft production line to India provided the Indian Air Force (IAF) buys the aircraft. "We are offering to make F-16 Block 70, the most advanced aircraft in India. It is one of the most proven fighter aircraft in the world and is flown by air forces in 25 countries," said Randall L Howard, who looks after F-16 Business Development.

If the IAF buys 100 aircraft, it gives stability to the industry that will invest a lot of money in various manufacturing units that support the production line, Howard said. "We make it in India, for India and then we make it in India and export to the world. If the initial orders are not there, it may not work for the industry," Howard added.

Though India has not yet responded to the offer, the top executives at Lockheed Martin are hopeful that it will accept the offer. "They are looking for single-engine fighter and we are offering one of the best aircraft, so we are confident that India will accept the offer," said Paranjape. "They have sent letters to a few firms, including us," he said.
Lockheed is building a far more expensive, technologically superior plane, the F-35 and uses that as the excuse for halting F-16 production in Texas. Local Congressman Marc Veasey bought in on some level: "Hopefully we can continue to build F-16’s for other countries that will need them in the future. But the F-35 really is what’s going to keep Lockheed viable for years to come." Lockheed offered several hundred employees a retirement buyout or an opportunity to work on the F-35 production line. starting in 2017. Trump has been busy fighting with Boeing and cutting shady deals with the Indiana air-conditioning manufacturer, Carrier, but I haven't heard a peep out of him yet on Lockheed Martin. That explosion-- now that local American papers are reporting on it-- should come momentarily. Yesterday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram came right out and asked if Trump will prevent Lockheed from moving high-paid Texas-based jobs to low-wage India.

Fort Worth is the 5th biggest city in Texas with nearly a million people in 4 counties, Tarrant, Denton, Parker and Wise. Lockheed Martin is headquartered there. Trump struggled in the suburbs of the other big Texas cities, losing in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, and El Paso, but winning in Ft. Worth.
Tarrant- 52.2%
Denton- 57.7%
Parker- 82.3%
Wise- 83.8%
Although much of Ft. Worth itself is represented by Democrat Marc Veasey (TX-33), the other 3 congressmen who represent the Ft. Worth area are powerful and senior Republicans: Joe Barton (TX-06), Kay Granger (TX-12) and Kenny Marchant (TX-24). I suspect none of them are going to allow F-16 fighter jet manufacture to move out of Texas without a huge commotion-- not to mention Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. It's worth mentioning that Lockheed Martin's PAC spent $4,243,986 on congressional candidates this cycle and that among the biggest recipients were Barton ($16,000), Marchant ($14,000), Veasey ($12,000), Granger ($10,000) and Cruz ($10,000).

The Star Telegram article yesterday emphasized that no one knows what Trump's posture on this will be. He certainly has a lot more clout with Lockheed Martin than he does with Carrier. The Washington Post's Annie Gowen that if this goes through, Lockheed will build new production facilities in India and that India will be the only manufacturer of the F-16 in the world. Bad news for Democrats:
The proposals have the strong backing of the Obama administration, which has sought a closer connection with the Indian military in recent years. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said she was “optimistic” about the prospect of a deal after a visit to New Delhi in August, and Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter is set to return to India this week, with procurement high atop the list of discussion topics.

But the election of a billionaire businessman focused on keeping jobs at home, rather than creating them overseas, has brought a measure of uncertainty to the talks.

“What will be the U.S. policy posture now that the new president-elect is in the mix?” said one high-level official at an American defense firm in India, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal negotiations. “Is he going to continue the policy of engaging in India on co-production and co-development? All of those are unknown at this point.”

...On the campaign trail he railed against job losses to Asia and Mexico.

“We are living through the greatest jobs theft in the world,” Trump said last month, citing American companies that have laid off workers and moved jobs to India, Singapore and Mexico. “It’s getting worse and worse and worse.”

Officials at Lockheed Martin and Boeing said that any partnership to manufacture jets in India would not result in a net loss of American jobs but would create Indian employment-- about 1,000 positions in the case of Lockheed Martin.

About 300 mechanics on the Fort Worth assembly line would be moved to the F-35 assembly line at the same plant. Others would be given an opportunity to apply for other jobs on the newer F-35, Lockheed officials said, although they concede that some positions would be lost in the move because of attrition or retirements.

“I see this as a great opportunity for all parties involved,” said Randy Howard, director of business development for Lockheed’s integrated fighter group. “It doesn’t take jobs away from the U.S., it extends existing jobs, and not just for Fort Worth but for many other companies around the U.S. that build parts for the F-16.”

Nevertheless, workers in Fort Worth say they are worried about the future.

“Wouldn’t you be?” said Earnest Boone, president of the District Lodge 776, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents Lockheed employees.

In October, the Indian government sent a letter to foreign missions and aerospace manufacturers inquiring about single-engine fighter aircraft that could be manufactured locally.

India wants to co-produce the fighter jets as part of its Make in India program, which has the lofty goal of expanding the manufacturing base to 25 percent of the gross domestic product in the next six years.

...The F-16 airplane remains one of the most widely used aircraft in the world, and Lockheed is continuing to negotiate deals to sell the fighter to other countries. Those F-16s would be made in India under the deal once the new assembly line was up and running, Howard said. The aircraft has been made in joint ventures with other nations before, but “we’ve never offered our only production line to another country,” Howard said. “It’s unprecedented.”

Lockheed has promised that India would not only manufacture and export its jets, but it also would play a “critical role” in supporting a fleet of about 3,200 F-16s in operation around the world, said Jon Grevatt, an Asia Pacific defense industry analyst with IHS Jane’s, a defense analysis firm. “That’s a big carrot,” he noted.

A potential stumbling block to the deal is the willingness of the U.S. government to part with enough of its mission system technology to make the package palatable to the Indians. The aircraft is viewed negatively by some in the defense establishment here as a dated platform that first rolled off the assembly line in 1978-- despite its current state-of-the-art avionics. Another strike against it, for some, is that it is the fighter aircraft used by archrival Pakistan.
Trump's bogus deal with Carrier is polling extremely well. Democrats had better remember whose side they're on or continue to suffer the consequences at the polls. Trump isn't really interested in helping American workers per se and that isn't what he means by making America great again. If workers were part of that, he'd be pushing a new industrial policy and he'd be forcing his party to support retraining proposals. Retired Marine Colonel Doug Applegate, who came within a fraction of a percent of beating Darrell Issa in a San Diego-Orange County district told us this morning that "The GOP's crony capitalism meets Trump’s  snake-oil-false-populism. Only the wealthy 1% will benefit while the rest of America lives with fake news. The GOP and Trump have shown themselves to be willing to ship overseas the economic strength of the United States bit by bit." Doug is running again and he is Blue America's first endorsed candidate for 2018. If you'd like to help replace Issa with Doug, you can do that here

Labels: , , , , ,


At 5:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Pentagon is clearly staffed by a bunch of cretins who never cracked a history book which covered ANY war.

The United States Strategic Bombing Survey largely attributed the defeat of Japan to the sinking or heavy damage of Japan's merchant fleet by US Submarines and the destruction of Japan's heavy industries by US air power.

India and Pakistan are incredibly close to going to war again. Both nations are nuclear powers. If the idiots seeking to disarm the United States by shipping entire industries to nations in danger of going to war have their way, how are they going to fight the war of their wet dreams? The one in which the neocons can declare suzerainty over the entire world? One can't build F-16s from piles of radioactive sand.

At 7:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They won't be building American F-16s. They'll be building planes to sell to India and others.

The American planes will be F-22s and F-35s which will be built here until we come up with the next gen of planes for our next gen of wars.

The controversy is over which workers should be paid to make planes us companies sell to others for THEIR wars. Should we pay us workers to build them or should we let them build their own.

Either way, us CMIC makes their gravy.


Post a Comment

<< Home