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DAVID ROSMAN: Legislative snub to Boeing could cost Missouri hundreds of jobs

Tuesday, October 18, 2011 | 7:08 p.m. CDT; updated 8:42 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 19, 2011

*Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, *cast a vote as "present," on the resolution. An earlier version of this article misrepresented his vote.

Who is the biggest defense contractor in Missouri?

This is not a trick question, even for our state legislators. It's Boeing Co.

So why did our representatives in the Gray Dome pass a nonbinding resolution in support of Virginia-based Lockheed Martin Corp. and snub Boeing? Was it a simple mistake?

The story was reported by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the St. Louis Beacon and the Missourian.

In fact, there are two stories here.

The base story involves two major players in the aviation defense industry and jobs in Missouri. As the Post-Dispatch reported, the manufacture of the F-35 strike fighter involves employment in all but three states.

Missouri would gain some 500 jobs if the F-35 gets its final okey-dokey by the U.S Congress.

On the other hand, the F/A-18 strike fighter is already manufactured in Missouri by a Missouri-based company.

Our home team, Boeing, says the F/A-18 is "a multirole fighter designed for aircraft carrier duty and is the first tactical aircraft initially designed to carry out both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions."

The Missouri jet fighter is flown by the Blue Angels, and our legislators somehow forgot that.

But the design is considered old. It entered active duty in 1983. And though it has gone through some major improvements, you can take an old design only so far. So, a new jet is needed.

Enter the F-35, a vertical takeoff and landing design, which means it can be deployed in smaller airfields and on smaller aircraft carriers, closer to the action.

Lockheed says "historical experience with fighter aircraft indicates that over time, operations and increasing sustainment costs become too expensive. The F-35 was designed to reverse this trend with affordability being one of the four design pillars."

But did it?

The Washington Post cited Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., reminding the Senate there is "a $1.1 billion cost overrun on the first 28 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter." Bloomberg agrees with this assessment.

According to Lockheed Martin spokesman Mike Rein, "Lockheed is absorbing approximately 30 percent of the overruns cost."

That means the taxpayers are responsible for the other 70 percent. If Bloomberg's prediction of a total overrun of "$6.43 billion in aircraft and engine costs for 28 planes, according to F-35 program data," then $4.5 billion will be picked up by the taxpayers.

Because of the cost overruns, the entire F-35 project is in line for a beheading at the budget-cut guillotine.

But with their wisdom and insight, our legislature wants to support the F-35 program at the cost of a bigger national deficit and possible Missouri jobs.

More insidious is that Missouri House Majority Leader Tim Jones, R-Eureka, told the Beacon, "It was a mistake to have a resolution that even implied a jab at Boeing by making 'a backhanded comment about one of their products.'"  

Jones continued that though the proposed resolution was in the works for weeks, it seems no one read it.

If the state legislators did not read a simple resolution that contains 378 words, imagine how much effort they are putting into, let's say, reading the state budget?

How about any proposed legislation that would actually create an increase of jobs in Missouri?

Unfortunately, this is not a rhetorical question. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, *cast a vote as "present," on the resolution, but Stephen Webber, D-Columbia, voted "yea," as did Mary Still, D-Columbia and John Cauthorn, R-Mexico. Just what were they thinking?

Oh yes, the second story. If you read the three news reports cited above, you will note something I have understood for a long time — the farther away physically a paper is from a story, the shorter the report is. 

It is not like the loss of jobs in St. Louis will have no impact in the middle of Missouri. Of course it will.

It will affect our farmers, manufacturers, our retail and even the university, as out-of-work families will not be able to afford to send their kids to MU for their education.

This is an important story for the state and for Columbia, and I believe the Missourian should have done a better job reporting this legislative "error."

David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in Communications, Ethics, Business and Politics. David’s new book, "A Christian Nation? An examination of Christian nation theories and proofs" is now on pre-release sale at Books.InkandVoice.com. 


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Comments

David Rosman October 19, 2011 | 4:06 p.m.

There is one error in this story. Mr. Kelly DID vote; however, his vote was recorded as "present," therefore neither "yea" nor "nay" on this resolution. David

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