Progressive versus President over jobs and Pentagon spending

(8 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

A member of the House Progressive Caucus staked his reputation on restoring funding for a canceled Pentagon program and managed to secure $100 million for Lockheed Martin to keep the defunct and unwanted VH-71 presidential helicopter program alive.

President Obama said in Feburary that the project was “an example of the procurement process gone amok and we are going to have to fix it.”

However this Friday, The Hill reported Rep. Maurice Hinchley secured the $100 million commitment to the defunct program. Hinchley, a Democrat representing the 22nd congressional district of New York, said in a statement:

Although I was not able to achieve my complete objective, which was to fully continue all aspects of Lockheed Martin’s Increment 1 presidential helicopter, this funding will save about 250 jobs in Owego that would have been lost without it.

According to the Ithaca Journal, Hinchey “staked his reputation as a senior House appropriator on saving the VH-71 helicopter program.”

The price of $100 million to Lockheed Martin that works out potentially to about $400,000 per worker assuming 250 jobs are saved. However, the defense contractor has already eliminated hundreds of positions after the Pentagon cancelled the VH-71 helicopter program because of delays and cost overruns. The project had already run 50 percent over the Lockheed Martin bid.

On June 21, the Washington Post reported the Demise of helicopter program meant hundreds of jobs lost in a struggling part of New York.

Since the military issued an order June 1 to terminate the program, about 800 workers have stopped building the helicopters and are searching for new jobs in a region struggling in the recession. More than 200 employees at Lockheed’s Owego facility have been laid off. The company announced Tuesday that it would soon cut as many as 750 additional jobs over the next month.

Many in the Oswego community blamed Obama for the project’s failure and the loss of their jobs. Despite for the Bush administration wanting “nothing short of a high-flying armored limousine with seating for 14, the ability to fly at least 300 miles and security requirements for the post-Sept. 11 age”.

When President Obama signed the defense budget for 2010, he said the budget was “eliminating tens of billions of dollars in waste we don’t need.” He note the presidential helicopter “costs nearly as much as Air Force One. I won’t be flying on that.” Even though the program was cancelled, Defense War Secretary Robert Gates estimated that terminating the contract would still cost $1.2 billion.

So, we are left with a House progressive supporting a defense contractor because of a major loss of jobs when the program was cancelled and fighting with a Democratic administration over the cancelation of tribute money to the military industrial complex.

Instead of fighting for a $100 million to help the roughly 800 to 1,700 potentially laid off Lockheed Martin workers at more than $58,000 per person, Hinchley ‘wins’ $400,000 for only 250 workers. I doubt the jobs this money saves are all going to pay that much per year. Since the defense contractor will undoubtedly take a sizable cut, spending $100 million to preserve 250 military industrial jobs hardly seems like the best use of our borrowed federal dollars.

There has to be a better, more cost-effective way to preserve and create jobs in the United States.


Cross-posted from Daily Kos.



    • Magnifico on December 14, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    An unhealthy relationship all in the name of jobs.

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