Merci, John McCain, for Killing American Jobs

Isaiah J. Poole

The Campaign for America’s Future has released a 30-second video that mocks Sen. John McCain’s involvement in an Air Force tanker contract that, as a result of McCain’s intervention, has gone to the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS), the parent company of Airbus, instead of American-based competitor Boeing.

It coincides with a trip McCain is making to France today to meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

This issue, fundamentally, is not about taking sides between Airbus and Boeing. It’s about taking a side for the American worker, which McCain is doggedly refusing to do.

It is one thing to police the notoriously corrupt and favor-ridden military procurement system. It is another to intervene in ways that tilt the scales away from using American taxpayer dollars to support American jobs and America’s defense manufacturing capacity. And McCain has a long history of doing just that.

McCain has repeatedly voted against bills that encourage defense contracts to be awarded to American companies. In 1996, McCain voted to table an amendment that required defense contractors to indicate on contracts what percentage of the contract would be manufactured in the United States. The amendment would have also required the Department of Defense to treat this as an important factor when awarding contracts.

Moreover, in 2004, McCain proposed and voted for an amendment to allow the Defense Department to waive “Buy American” requirements, opening defense contracts to firms in seven countries that have a “declaration of principles” with the United States.

McCain has been wresting with the Air Force over the tanker deal since 2001, when he spotted a $30 billion earmark for Boeing in a defense appropriations bill and argued that the contract should have been competitively bid. In 2004, McCain again helped scuttle a contract deal and exposed improper dealings between a top Air Force official and Boeing.

But the relationships that McCain has developed with lobbyists for Airbus cast a dark shadow over his good government image. Despite McCain’s claim that he never weighed in for or against anybody that competed for the contract, McCain has received over $14,000 from EADS employees—more than any other member of Congress. In addition, many of McCain’s top advisers lobbied for EADS to win the Air Force contract. Among them:

  • McCain’s campaign co-chairman, Thomas Loeffler, who runs the Loeffler Group lobbying firm, earned $220,000 working for EADS in 2007. Loeffler was the McCain campaign national finance chairman when his firm was hired to lobby for EADS.
  • Susan Nelson, McCain’s finance director, and William L. Ball III, were also Loeffler executives working for EADS.
  • Wayne Berman, vice chairman of the McCain campaign, worked for EADS through another lobbying firm, Ogilvy Government Relations, where he is a partner. Ogilvy earned $240,000 from EADS in 2007.
  • Kirk Blalock, a national chairman of Young Professionals for McCain, and his lobbying firm, Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock, earned $320,000 from EADS in 2007, according to disclosure forms required by Congress.
  • A co-founder of Oglivy Government Relations, John Green, is now the McCain campaign’s government liaison.

From his promotion of an anti-American worker legislative agenda to his intimate involvement with EADS, McCain played an integral role in the Air Force’s decision to choose EADS over Boeing. Awarding the contract to Boeing would have supported at least 44,000 new and existing American jobs. At most, EADS will support around 2,000 American jobs, according to one military analyst.

Even McCain’s Republican backers were astonished as his support of EADS over Boeing. As McCain supporter Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., stated, “If John McCain believes that Airbus or EADS is the company for our Air Force tanker program, he’s flat-out wrong — and I’ll tell him that to his face.”

And so should every American worker who doesn’t want our defense jobs shipped overseas.

Researcher Molly Swartz contributed to this post.

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