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During challenging economic times, America must not lose aerospace jobs race

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Aerospace aviation is a high speed, highly competitive field that’s important to Texas.  You will likely remember me commenting on this topic previously. That is because we are in a jobs race against a French-based company funded with $178 billion of European Union-provided subsidies. Airbus, to date, has taken tens of thousands of American jobs, according to our U.S. Trade Representative. Today they are preparing to take 50,000 more jobs and a prestigious $35 billion U.S. defense contract with the help of $5 billion in subsidies that the World Trade Organization just ruled to be illegal.

The Pentagon is currently searching for a company to build a new fleet of airborne refueling tankers for the Air Force. The current tankers first hit the skies when President Eisenhower sat in the Oval Office and it is now time to replace them with a new, more advanced fleet.

America’s Boeing Corporation is going head-to-head for that contract with France’s Airbus. But this is not shaping up to be a fair fight. Airbus’ aircraft was built with $5 billion of illegal subsidies, according to a recent landmark ruling from the World Trade Organization. The illegal subsidies might allow Airbus to underbid Boeing and win the tanker contract, building it primarily in Europe and costing America more than 50,000 jobs, including 2,500 here in Texas at companies like Vought Aircraft Industries in Grand Prairie.

Equally as troubling are the implications for America’s security and our pilots’ safety. Boeing has seven decades of experience building tanker aircraft. The new tanker will be based on a proven Boeing model that tanker crews call the gold standard for this technology. Our Air Force pilots deserve the best, most tested and reliable aircraft in the world.

Despite these facts, Airbus is now pressuring the Pentagon and the Obama Administration to ignore its illegal subsidies and allow them to use this illegal aid in the tanker competition.  But America shouldn’t compromise its values or its workers in order to accommodate any defense contractor, particularly not one with a history of anti-American trade violations. If the Airbus design does not satisfy the Air Force’s requirements, would waste billions in taxpayer dollars and outsource American jobs at a time of high unemployment. In effect, we would be subsidizing jobs in France, Spain, and Germany with 35 billion of tax dollars paid for by Texans and other Americans.  I believe in fair, open competition in all endeavors and simply want to make sure this critical procurement decision is one in which all competitors are assessed on an even playing field.

Texas remains the beacon of economic hope in this country and our state is working hard to be the first to fully recover from this economic downturn. I believe that free markets, our talented entrepreneurs and our good business regulatory environment will win out and that Texas will emerge from this recession stronger than when we entered it. But the task will be tougher if foreign competitors are allowed to inappropriately subsidize key industries and cost Americans tens of thousands of jobs without as much as a peep from the Obama Administration.

At a minimum, the administration should direct the Defense Department to conduct a subsidy-free tanker competition. Airbus is welcome to contend for the contract, but they must either divest their aircraft of the illegal subsidies or the Pentagon should discount their value when weighing the bids. To do any less would harm our economy and our American workers.

As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Texas House of Representatives.  Please feel free to contact me at my district office at 972.724.8477 or by e-mail at tan.parker@house.state.tx.us if I can ever be of service.

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