'Sequestration: A Threat to Florida and the Nation'

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida, Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Remarks for Sequestration Employee Rally by Pratt & Whitney President,
David P. Hess

Pratt & Whitney and Sikorsky, in conjunction with the Aerospace Industries Association, hosted a "Second to None" rally for more than 300 employees on Wednesday in West Palm Beach, Fla. The rally highlighted the critical contribution of the aerospace and defense industry to the U.S. economy and spread the word about the potential impact of budget sequestration.

The speaking program included U.S. Rep. Allen West of Florida, Pratt & Whitney President David Hess, Tom Burbage, executive vice president and general manager, Joint Strike Fighter Program Integration, Lockheed Martin and Scott Starrett, vice president, Washington Operations & Government Business Development, Sikorsky, all of whom were joined on stage by 50 U.S. veterans. The veterans, who are also Pratt & Whitney and Sikorsky employees, were publicly recognized for their military service by each of the speakers, and by their fellow employees. Hess, who also serves as chairman of the Aerospace Industries Association, urged employees to join the fight against sequestration by contacting their elected officials.

"Massive sequestration budget cuts are a threat to American jobs, the economy and U.S. national security," Hess said. "We need you, our employees, to raise your voices loud and clear, and tell our elected officials that what we need is an alternative to sequestration that keeps us on the path of continued job creation, growth and innovation."

Full text remarks by Pratt & Whitney President, David P. Hess

Good morning and thank you all for joining us. It’s great to be in West Palm Beach.

As most of you know, I’m David Hess, president of Pratt & Whitney. I am also honored this year to serve as board chairman of the Aerospace Industries Association, which is continuing to spread the word about federal budget policies that could have a dramatic impact on each and every one of us.

I’ll say more about that in a minute, but first I’d like to recognize the leaders who have joined us here today. In addition to Tom and Scott, I want to offer a special welcome to Representative Allen West. Congressman West has been an outspoken advocate of our nation’s men and women in uniform and a strong supporter of the industrial base needed to support the troops. This is a view I wish every one of our elected officials shared.

At a time when our leaders in Washington, as well as all of us, are facing some of the most severe fiscal challenges in a generation – it is critical that we continue to join together to make our voices heard about the importance of your hard work, and how it keeps our nation strong and safe and our economy moving forward.

Make no mistake, massive sequestration budget cuts are a threat to American jobs, the economy and U.S. national security.

It can be averted, but frankly, we’re running out of time.

The clock is counting down to January 2nd, when another $500 billion defense cut will kick in, and there is simply too much on the line to stand by and watch it happen.

Our jobs and our communities are at stake. A number of recent studies support that assertion, concluding that:

  • • Sequestration threatens 2.14 million American jobs across all 50 states
  • • It will cost $109 billion in lost wages and salaries
  • • It will lower the nation’s GDP by $215 billion in 2013
  • • And, it will raise unemployment by 1.5 percent nationwide.

In short, it has the potential to send America over the edge of what some are calling a “fiscal cliff” and potentially drive the country back into recession.

There is still time for a solution that keeps us safely away from the edge, but the time for action is now.

It is abundantly clear that a strong defense and aerospace industry means a strong U.S. economy. Our aerospace industry:

  • • Supports 3.5 million American jobs
  • • Contributes 2.23 perecent of the nation’s GDP
  • • And is the country’s largest manufacturing exporter.

The industry is also critical for Florida:

  • • Florida has the second-highest number of aviation, aerospace, and space facilities in the nation
  • • And the state is home to more than 2,000 aerospace companies and 83,000 aerospace workers.

The industry in Palm Beach County alone:

  • • Supports 630 companies in aerospace, aviation and engineering
  • • Employs more than 20,000 people
  • • Contributes $4.5 billion to the local economy
  • • And is responsible for a net increase in jobs—among the major employers—of 18.4 percent since 2008.

But today, rather than celebrating these heartening numbers, some are viewing Florida’s defense and aerospace industry as an attractive target for sequestration cuts.

Florida is one of the top ten states that will be most affected if sequestration comes to pass in 2013.

  • • In Florida, sequestration puts 42,000 defense jobs and 38,000 non-defense jobs at risk, for a total of 80,000 jobs at risk in the state
  • • Sequestration will cause a loss in Florida of $4 billion in lost wages and salaries
  • • And it will lead to a loss of nearly $8 billion in Florida’s economic output
    (or GSP).

At a time when the U.S. needs job creation and economic growth more than ever, now is not the time to push the self-destruct button on the aerospace and defense industry in Florida or anywhere else.

Among the pundits in Washington, sequestration has been called the “sword of Damocles,” a “forcing function,” a “deterrent” and even a “test of Congress.”

Congressman West would probably agree that the last thing Congress needs right now is another test.

What we need is a solution. An alternative to sequestration must be found that keeps us on the path of continued job creation, growth and innovation.

We must ensure that everyone hears your voices and stands up for working families in Palm Beach County and across the nation. Let’s put an end to sequestration and keep our industry, our families and our country moving forward.

Thank you.