Today French President Sarkozy reportedly is lobbying President Obama to delay the U.S. government’s decision to award its $35 billion contract for the Air Force’s new refueling tanker. Sarkozy wants the contract for Northrop-EADS, a heavily subsidized French defense firm that recently pulled its proposal from the bidding process. Northrup-EADS now is mounting a huge public relations campaign to get the U.S. government to reverse what it regards as an unfair advantage for Boeing, which says the competition is fair.
If Northrup-EADS won the contract, most of the jobs would be in Europe. The few thousand jobs created here under an EADS contract would be low-paid assembly jobs with no union representation. Meanwhile, there are some 17 million jobless workers in this nation, and as leaders of two AFL-CIO constituency groups point out, granting the contract to Boeing would create at least 50,000 family-supporting jobs, save taxpayer dollars and protect fair trade laws.
In a letter to the Seattle Times, Malcolm Amado Uno, executive director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), writes:
If President Obama wants to keep us moving in the right direction, he’ll stand up to European pressure on the tanker contract and create 50,000 U.S. jobs by purchasing an American-made tanker. Illegally subsidized French companies have no right to tell the Air Force how to spend U.S. taxpayer money.
Clayola Brown, president of the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI), in a letter to the Battle Creek (Mich.) Inquirer, lays it on the line:
We can’t afford to waste $35 billion on a foreign-made hunk of junk that won’t get the job done. Congress and the Pentagon should buy the Boeing tanker, create 50,000 U.S. jobs and tell Airbus to take a hike.
Even conservatives see the benefit of awarding the contract to Boeing. In a new report, Robert Shapiro, CEO of the business consulting firm Sonecon, and Aparna Mathur, a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, say Boeing would create 10 times as many new U.S. jobs as Northrup-EADS. If Boeing develops and produces the tanker, it should lead to the creation of an estimated 62,605 to 70,706 new U.S. jobs over the life of the contract, the report says. And that doesn’t include jobs created by suppliers and other in the supply chain.
By contrast, if Airbus/Northrop-Grumman developed and produced the tanker, it whould lead to the creation of an estimated 5,113 to 7,080 new U.S. jobs over the life of the contract.
And here’s Kansas Republican Sen. Sam Brownback speaking on conservative talk radio yesterday:
We have tried repeatedly to get the Department of Defense to say look, if you illegally subsidize your aircraft, we are going to add the price of that subsidy onto the price of your aircraft, because this is illegal to do. And if you don’t do that, what will keep other countries from simply illegally subsidizing the development of another piece of hardware in our military system, but then they take away that business from the United States on an illegal basis, and hurting our job creation, and hurting our defense military establishment.
The tanker contract was rebid this year after the Government Accountability Office upheld Boeing’s protest of the original decision to award the contract to EADS and Northrup.