George Landrith

Of the most important issues facing Americans today, the stalled economy and high unemployment rate rank at the top of the list. Our country is facing a serious crisis with the number of unemployed Americans swelling to 14 million. People are spending roughly half as much money as they used to and new investment is scarce. It creates a cyclical effect that is likely to continue, at least for the foreseeable future.

President Obama and Congress continue to search and debate over the most appropriate solution, while failing to oversee any true economic comeback. The private sector employs two-million fewer Americans than it did just 10 years ago. And one-third of all manufacturing jobs have been eliminated since 2000.

What other issues plague the American condition? Not surprisingly, national security also tops that list, particularly as it relates to our engagement over the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan. Recently, leaks detailing plans for gutting US defense and national security programs bounced through the hallways of President Obama’s White House. Word quickly swirled about the Administration’s narrow-minded view of threats facing the US today and in the future.

Our minds circle with concerns about jobs, the economy and the safety of our country and its families. Interestingly, the U.S. Air Force is seeking to develop a light attack aircraft that will aid and better outfit the military to deal with new-age threats in a more scalable cost effective manner.

One of the candidates looking to partner with the U.S. Air Force is the all-American company Hawker Beechcraft. With this contract, the aircraft manufacturer will create and sustain approximately 1,400 jobs in 18 states throughout the US. With around 800 of those new jobs cropping up in Wichita, Kansas, a city tough hit by the loss of high-payingaircraft manufacturing jobs.

The second competing aircraft manufacturer, Brazilian owned and based Embraer, will create about 50 jobs in Florida, while the majority of the production will take place in Brazil. Outsourcing jobs to foreign countries like Brazil, especially for important defense related products, is a risky practice that not only threatens the American workforce, but also threatens our national security.

There are also other issues for the U.S. Air Force to consider when selecting an aircraft for these vital missions. For example, there is a little known clause in Embraer’s bylaws known as the “golden share.” This clause preserves Brazil’s “national interest” in the company and endows the Brazilian government with the same voting rights as the holders of common shares. Most notably, the “golden share” equips the Brazilian government with veto rights over the creation and alteration of military programs, whether or not involving the Federative Republic of Brazil. This means that if the Department of Defense were to award this contract to Embraer, the Braziliangovernment, which has a notably strained and inconsistent relationship with the United States, would have the power to shut down production or maintenance of American defense aircraft at any time with no notice. Given the many pitfalls related to trusting American national security to Brazil, it is concerning that the Department of Defense is even considering Embraer’s proposal.

Americans can’t find jobs, especially well-paying jobs that can support a family. Today there are five applicants for every one job opening. Do we really have to think hard about which company should win this contract. Hiring foreign companies to produce American military aircraft issimply bad policy, especially in this ever-worsening economic calamity.

The most basic moral obligation of the federal government is to defend America, which requiresmilitary and economic preparation and strength. It’s not too late to make the right decision—buy American.


George Landrith

George Landrith is President of Frontiers of Freedom. Frontiers of Freedom was founded in 1994 by U.S. Senator Malcolm Wallop and is an educational institute whose mission is to promote conservative public policy based on the principles of individual freedom, peace through strength, limited government, free enterprise, and traditional American values as found in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.