(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) took to the Senate floor to set the record straight on many of Airbus' claims regarding jobs and their assertion that their plane is American-made. Senator Murray also discussed the years of subsidies European countries have provided Airbus.
The full text of Senator Murray's speech follows:
Mr. President, I want to spend a few minutes today talking to you about the future of our nation’s global aerospace leadership – because I believe it is in serious jeopardy.
For any of my colleagues who haven’t heard, last Friday, the Air Force awarded one of the largest military contracts in history. It’s a $40 billion contract. But the Air Force picked a group led by the French company Airbus over the American company Boeing to supply our next generation of aerial refueling tankers.
Mr. President, I think I speak for many of us when I say it is deeply, deeply troubling that we would turn our aerospace leadership over to a foreign company. If the contract had gone to Boeing, it would have meant 44,000 American jobs.
So now Airbus is arguing that this contract isn’t outsourcing jobs because it teamed with Northrop Grumman. And they’ve got their supporters on the radio and on TV talking about how excited they are about the work that will come to the U.S. because of this deal.
But I think we need to step back and take a good, hard look at what Airbus is planning before anyone pops the champagne. And the reality is – we just don’t know what Airbus is planning.
All We Have is Airbus’s Word
The Air Force has already said it didn’t consider jobs a factor when it awarded the tanker contract. So all we have to go on is Airbus’s word. And Mr. President, we’ve seen Airbus’s slick marketing campaign before – and we have good reason to be worried.
Airbus has a history of bending the truth to try to convince Congress that it plans to invest in the U.S. But when you examine their claims, they just don’t hold up. Five years ago, when Airbus was first working to unravel Boeing’s tanker contract, Airbus and its parent company EADS hired a small army of lobbyists to assert to us that their business was good for America.
Well, I was skeptical. So I asked the Commerce Department to investigate. And guess what I found? Airbus had claimed that they created 100,000 jobs. But the Commerce Department looked into it and counted just 500. Airbus had said it contracted with 800 U.S. firms. But all the Commerce Department came up with was 250.
And at that point, Airbus did something funny. They changed their numbers – decreasing the number of contracts from 800 to 300. But then they increased the alleged value of those contracts from $5 billion up to $6 billion a year. I said at the time, “You just can’t trust Airbus’s funny numbers.”
And what’s interesting is that if you peel back the veneer on Airbus’s promises this time, you start to ask similar questions.
All We Know is that Most of the Work Will be Done Overseas
Airbus has said it will build an assembly plant in Alabama. The Air Force says the planes will be American. But the plant doesn’t exist. And the only thing we know about the jobs it will create is that most of the work will be done overseas. An article in a British newspaper reported Monday that “Airbus will build the planes in Europe, and then fly them to a plant in Mobile, Alabama, for fitting out.”
Supposedly this allows them to call them American made.
Mr. President, that’s like shipping a BMW over from Germany, putting new tires on it, and calling it America’s newest luxury car. As I have said before, you can put an American sticker on a plane and call it American – but that doesn’t make it American made.
I think we can take some cues from the reaction of French and German leaders about what this contract means for Boeing and the American industry – and it isn’t good. German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the deal “an immense success for Airbus and for the European aerospace industry.” A spokesman for French President Nicolas Sarkozy called it a “historic success.”
We Have to Defend Our Aerospace Industry
Mr. President, four years ago, I stood on this floor to raise an alarm about Europe’s attempt to dismantle the American aerospace industry. And I have spent years warning the Administration and Congress that we have to defend our industry and demand that Airbus play by the rules.
For decades, Europe has provided subsidies to prop up Airbus and EADS. Airbus is a jobs program that has led to tens of thousands of layoffs here in the U.S. Because of their illegal tactics, the U.S. government has a WTO case pending against Airbus. And now I think we have even more reason for concern because this contract gives Airbus a firm foothold as a U.S. contractor. And it’s one that will hurt U.S. workers for years.
It took us 100 years to build our aerospace industry. But once our plants shut down, the industry is gone. We can’t just rebuild it overnight.
Let’s Set the Record Straight
So let’s set the record straight. With this contract Airbus isn’t creating American jobs – it’s killing them. With this contract we can say “Bon voyage” to 44,000 U.S. jobs – and “Bon voyage” to 40 billion taxpayer dollars.