America's defense aerospace firms would like you to know that those badass fighter jets that keep you safe didn't just appear by magic -- they were built by humble, mom-and-pop American companies just struggling to get by in this crazy world of ours. These small businesses, whose names you've probably never heard (Bow-wing? Lock-heart? Pratt & Something?) have asked for just a little bit of time this week to make their case in Washington.
Because the defense aerospace sector doesn't already have enough throw weight around the capital, it has declared this National Aerospace Week, the goal of which "is to highlight the important contributions of the U.S. aerospace industry with a series of events during the week in Washington, D.C. and in manufacturing communities around the country."
On Tuesday, as you've read, top aerospace officials met with Secretary Panetta to press him to help protect budgets and relax export controls to make it easier for them to trade overseas. On Wednesday, top leaders convened a news conference at the National Press Club, where they warned of the "devastating job losses, national security threats and infrastructure implications that would result from budget cuts put in motion by this summer's debt-ceiling deal." Later, the Aerospace Industries Association was set to present Washington Sen. Patty Murray with its Wings of Liberty award, "in recognition of her longtime support of the aerospace and defense industry." Et cetera.
In short -- the aerospace industry sees a major threat in the prospect of the coming billions in defense spending reductions, and no wonder. Its argument is simple: If budget cuts force us to lay off our skilled engineers, close our factories filled with advanced equipment or even get out of the defense game altogether, America will lose something it may never get back. Or, if the U.S. does want it back, the costs to reconstitute the defense aerospace industry will be prohibitive compared with what they would've been if Congress had only been reasonable in the first place.
Not a new argument, but as the super-committee continues its debate and Senate appropriators agree to freeze defense spending, it takes on new urgency for the industry. Do you think the companies make a compelling case?