Pump-Priming, Back-Scratching


CANTON, OHIO, October 22—George Bush’s scheduled Friday afternoon visit to a military supplier here can be viewed as a shining emblem of the “jobless recovery,” not to mention yet more proof that Keynesian economics works. When he goes to Timken Co., he’ll be visiting a manufacturer whose top management has made major political contributions since 2000.

The Timken family, maker of parts for combat and cargo planes, has given considerable money to Bush since August 2000, with W.R. Timken Jr. and his relatives chipping in a total of $400,000 in soft money.

The first time Bush was running for president, Timken was in the doldrums. Today, it has renewed life thanks to the war in Iraq, which has meant more demand for aircraft parts, and thanks to free trade policies under which it shifted jobs out of the U.S.

In April 2003, writes The Plain Dealer, Bush visited Canton and predicted his administration’s tax cuts would mean “more money for growth and more money for jobs.” It certainly meant more money.

Under Bush, the company, with $3.8 billion in annual sales, has received millions of federal dollars through one channel or another. More than 60 percent
of the contracts it got were non-bid, according to the Center for Public Integrity, the Washington, D.C.–based public interest research group. Another investigation, this one by The Plain Dealer, found that the company’s military business jumped 176 percent under Bush.

Many of the contracts were let without bidding, the paper noted.

Timken makes parts for the army’s Apache attack helicopter; for the TH47 cargo helicopter, also for the army; and for the air force’s F16 fighters—all aircraft used in the Iraq war. Making parts for the military is a small but lucrative side of the company’s overall operations.

Timken’s business was also buoyed by the company’s having paid no federal income taxes last year and in 2001. Now the company is set to benefit from new corporate tax cuts, and it has been paid millions more in anti-dumping penalties levied on foreign steel makers. The Bush administration’s tariffs made this possible.

None of the administration’s military pump-priming was of much help to the Timken workers, who are barely hanging on to jobs. Three local plants, and some 1,300 jobs, are on the chopping block, reports The Plain Dealer. In part, those workers are at risk because—despite all these subsidies from the U.S.—Timken chose to build a new plant in China.

Additional reporting: David Botti

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 12, 2004

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