Sunday, November 29, 2009

Texas Republicans caught with pants down on military contract deal

Texas is losing a big military contract to Wisconsin and Republican politicians across the state are now left with egg on their face.

The Pentagon's decision to shift the production of Army trucks from Texas to Wisconsin after 17 years caught Texas' elected officials by surprise, raising questions about overconfidence, a loss of political clout and the impact of economic incentives provided to the winning company by Wisconsin's Democratic governor.

Overconfidence is putting it nicely. How about political cluelessness and incompetence. Those are the real factors that allowed this deal to slip through Texas' fingers.

Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry and the 34-member Senate-House delegation are rallying to salvage a deal for BAE Systems that could be worth $2.6 billion and sustain 10,000 direct and indirect jobs around the sprawling truck manufacturing plant in Sealy.

Rallying. Yeah, right. A British-owned company that bid 10 percent higher than its competitor. That right there is enough to make this a no-brainer call by the Pentagon without even getting into the politics.
But when you throw in the politics it becomes so much clearer how badly Texas is now being represented by the clueless, government-despising, rightwing idealogues now in charge. In Wisconsin, the Democratic governor pulled every string he could to give his state's company every advantage. In Texas, Gov. Goodhair did squat. I guess he was too busy trashing the United States at some wild-eyed, radical Tea Party gathering and talking about seccession to notice that 10,000 state jobs were about to vanish.

The 92-year-old Oshkosh Corp. undercut BAE Systems' bid by roughly 10 percent. The Wisconsin company had support by a predominantly Democratic congressional delegation that helped Barack Obama carry the state last November. And the truck builder reaped the benefits of state assistance crafted by Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle.
Elected officials in Texas assumed the contract would remain in their state, relied on networks of support built up during Republican control of the White House and Congress and did not provide BAE Systems any state assistance.

They "assumed" the contract would remain in their state. And we all know what it means when you assume.... (You make an ASS out of U and ME).

This used to be a bipartisan state which allowed us to shift with the changing political tide in Washington in such a way that we were always able to protect Texas' interests. But no longer. Today we have a rightwing Republican governor who delights in sticking his finger in the president's eye at every opportunity, and two Republican Senators and a majority Republican House delegation that filibusters EVERY single thing the new administration tries to do regardless.
Even if moving the work to Wisconsin wasn't saving the government a huge chung of money (10 percent of $2.6 billion is a LOT of money), it would still be understandable just on the grounds of political payback. Why on Earth would the current administration want to do a special favor for a district in a Red state that voted overwhelmingly against them and just threw out a Democratic congressman in the last election?
But, even with all that said, it would still have been possible to salvage the deal and keep those jobs in Texas if our current political leadership were even halfway intelligent and even slightly competent. But that is clearly not the case.

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