Friday, November 27, 2009

Maybe they can manufacture Republic of Texas trucks

That's harsh, and it's from a commenter on this news item:

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.

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.

But as one Democratic operative puts it: “That's like having a party in the corral after all the horses have run out.”

The more you read, the worse it gets -- for the people in the Sealy region, for the state's economy, for Rick Perry and Michael McCaul and Texas Republicans.

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.

Katherine Cesinger, Perry's deputy press secretary, said BAE Systems “did not ask our office for any assistance prior to the recent decision.”

“It sounds to me like complacency may be the biggest factor in Texas losing this contract,” says political scientist Paul Light of New York University. “The Army made a decision to give the contract to the lowest bidder. If I were an elected official from Texas, I'd stop whining and start asking questions about why Texas didn't put up the dollars to help the company keep that contract.” ...

The setback for Texas illustrates just how far the state's political leverage has plummeted since Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, D-Houston, helped BAE's predecessor win the initial contract in 1991 under President George H.W. Bush, and Sens. Phil Gramm, R-College Station, and Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Dallas, helped the company retain the contract in 2001 under President George W. Bush.

“We never saw this coming — we were completely blindsided,” says a top aide to Sen. John Cornyn, R-San Antonio, a former member of the Senate Armed Services Committee panel with jurisdiction over military vehicles.

Lawmakers and BAE officials alike felt “sucker punched,” added David Davis, a top Hutchison aide. “ ‘Shocked' doesn't begin to describe it.”

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, whose Austin-to-Houston district includes the plant, learned of the Army's decision while driving to an appearance in his district in late August. He and press secretary Mike Rosen immediately diverted to visit BAE officials in Sealy.

“In a time of war, terminating a relationship with a proven manufacturer does not seem to be a prudent choice,” McCaul subsequently wrote Defense Secretary Robert Gates in a letter signed by 25 members of Texas' 32-member House delegation.

One congressional aide said Texas lawmakers should have been more alert to the possibility of losing a contract that Oshkosh had tried to win in 2001. “It just wasn't on anybody's radar,” the aide said.

And here come the recriminations.

Some Texas Democrats have seized upon the lost contract to criticize GOP officials. “Job protection is really job No. 1 for a member of Congress,” says former Democratic Rep. Chris Bell, a former Houston City Council member who served one term in the House before losing in 2004.

McCaul failed to enlist Democrats in Texas' congressional delegation such as Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, to help protect the contract in a Democratic administration, says Matt Angle, a longtime Democratic operative who heads the political action committee known as the Lone Star Project.

There is also, naturally, some whining about the influence of Wisconsin's D.C. Democratic delegation -- including David Obey, Herb Kohl, and Russ Feingold -- which may or may not have been brought to bear. But I think it's really about the Badger State's savvy governor, who used heavy financial incentives to sharpen the Oshkosh bid.

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. ...

The $35 million in tax breaks and the economic assistance provided Oshkosh over 12 years signal that “Wisconsin is open for business,” Doyle said. But the truck manufacturer says the assistance “did not make the difference” in the outcome of the bidding.

But Light, the political scientist, noted: “It doesn't sound like Texas has much maneuvering room in the bid protest — a 10 percent difference in price is huge on a multibillion-dollar contract.”

From the comments ...

If I were making decisions for the Army, I too would be nervous about entrusting vital military manufacturing contracts to a State whose Governor has expressed sympathy for the possibility of Texas' succession from the Union. Yeah, I know he was kowtowing to the Tea Party Astroturf movement when he made his remarks, but as Rush reminds us, words have meaning. But on a more serious note, as this article so clearly shows, Governor Perry needs to get his head out of the ideological fog, and do his job, which includes ensuring that Texas retains and develops more government connected jobs by effectively working with Democrats who now control the Presidency, Senate and House. Texas jobs should not be a casualty in Perry's ideological war against the Obama Administration.

You hit the nail right on the head. 10,000 jobs are big lose for Sealy, Texas. Governor Perry and the republican senators need to understand, their colleagues (Tea Party wackos) do not employ 10,000 people in Texas. How in the world they did not know this?

The Army probably has a mandate to make trucks in the US and not in a foreign country.

Where are the free enterprise advocates when someone else offers a better deal to save taxpayers money? Thanks to Tom DeLay gutting Texas' seniority in Congress (by redistricting out senior Democrats) and a 10% higher price, what did you expect the Pentagon to do - pay MORE? Beside, BAe is a UK company; Oshkosh is a US Company. Texas voted for the GOP: Wisconsin voted for the winner - and people are surprised?

Now he can build his "Republic of Texas" Trucks.

Hard to imagine conservatives complaining about the loss of federal dollars. Didn't Republicans also oppose the fiscal stimulus package? Can you say "Illogical"?

The people on talk radio dont want government contracts anyway. To them thats a form a socialism. See talk radio, your tea party is working! Congrats to Dan Patrick radio and his idiot followers.

I agree with all of you who want to "succeed". Under this administration, we will.
To the extent those of you who want to "succeed" by seceding... wouldn't it be easier if the three of you just moved? I mean, it doesn't make much sense for an entire state to leave the union to satisfy three whackjobs who cannot spell. I would suggest Alaska, but Alaska actually is a socialist state and you three seem not to like that. Perhaps Iran? That may be just conservative enough for you.

That beatdown the Longhorns put on the Aggies last night can't feel any worse to Governor 39% than this. It's suddenly not a very happy Thanksgiving for Texans, and even less so if they're standing on the right. But the truth is that all Texans will suffer to a degree for what appears to be our state leadership asleep on the economic job.

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