Plan to Cut Weapons Programs Disputed

Defense Supporters Say 100,000 Jobs Are in Jeopardy

By Dan Eggen, Washington Post Staff Writer, April 28, 2009

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.

….Gates and other Obama administration officials argue that job-loss fears are overstated, and note that the Pentagon’s overall budget would increase by $20 billion, to $534 billion, under the plan released this month. Proclaiming the need to “reshape the priorities of America’s defense establishment,” Gates called for halting or cutting a host of programs that have been plagued by delays, cost overruns or performance problems, including the F-22, the C-17, a fleet of new presidential helicopters and the Future Combat Systems program.

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.

“A lot of people are ascribing real cleverness to Gates in the way he has structured this,” said Loren B. Thompson, a defense analyst with the Lexington Institute think tank. “He has spread things out in a way aimed at dividing and weakening opposition.”

read whole article here

and another blogger’s response “bullet trains instead of bullets”  here

and an educational wand pdf on the issue here

a sample:  (from wand brochure)