Meridian Star

Columns

June 10, 2014

Jackson County vote risks Ingalls jobs

MERIDIAN — By Bill Crawford

Wow!

    Jackson County went for Chris McDaniel over Thad Cochran in the Senate Republican primary, putting the jobs of relatives, friends, and neighbors at risk.

    Talk about killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

    No county is more dependent on military spending than Jackson County. Think Ingalls Shipbuilding, the state’s largest private sector employer with approximately 11,000 jobs.

    Ingalls builds Navy and Coast Guard ships. It depends on Congress to authorize and fund those ships.

    No part of military spending relies more on Congressional clout than spending for ships, aircraft, weapons systems, and facilities.

    Who in Congress has the real clout to determine which ships, aircraft, weapons systems, and facilities get funded? The chairmen of the Senate and House Appropriations and Armed Services Committees.

    Who will become chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee when Republicans take control of the Senate in January?

    Thad Cochran.

    What clout would a freshman senator named Chris McDaniel have?

None.

    Who in our congressional delegation can pick up the slack if Cochran is gone?

Nobody.

    The closest is Roger Wicker who ranks fifth in seniority on the Senate Armed Services Committee. But, it will take another Cochran term before he will be in position to shoulder the load.  

    As chairman of Senate Appropriations, Cochran will not only have the power to work with House Republicans to dramatically cut federal spending, but he will also have the power to make the right cuts.

    President Obama and McDaniel’s big outside funders want broad cuts that result in fewer ships, aircraft, weapons systems, and military facilities. Such an approach puts jobs at the Pascagoula shipyard at substantial risk.

    Fewer ships mean fewer jobs at Ingalls. Fewer Ingalls jobs also mean fewer jobs around the county as incomes drop and the economy weakens. The same risk, of course, applies to jobs at VT Halter and Northrop Grumman.

    Only Cochran will have the power to protect those jobs until Wicker gains more seniority.

As Jackson County voters play Russian roulette with their economic future, voters in counties like Hancock, Harrison, Lauderdale, Lowndes, Rankin, Scott, and Warren may want to up their ante for Cochran. These counties also depend heavily on military spending for ships, aircraft, weapons systems, or facilities.

    Think Raytheon, Airbus, Aurora, Eaton, Pratt & Whitney, Lockheed Martin, L-3, Camp Shelby, Keesler AFB, Seabees, Columbus AFB, NAS Meridian, Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Special Boat Team 22, Naval Meteorology & Oceanography Command, the 172nd, 186th, 155th and 1108th guard units, and more – all with jobs at risk without Cochran.  

    It makes little sense for any county whose jobs depend heavily on military spending to throw out Cochran when he is about to gain power as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

It makes no sense at all for Jackson County.

 

Bill Crawford (crawfolk@gmail.com) is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.

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