Log In

Reset Password
  • MENU
    Local Columns
    Monday, March 20, 2023

    A President Trump would be bad for the submarine business

    There are countless good reasons to vote against Donald Trump. You've heard a lot of them.

    Around here, we can add another, an important one.

    President Donald Trump would be bad for the submarine business.

    You don't have to take that from me.

    Consider who John Casey, former president of Electric Boat and now executive vice president of General Dynamic's Marine Systems Group, is supporting for president.

    That's right, Casey, who cares a lot about the future of submarine contracts, is betting on and donating to Hillary Clinton.

    Indeed, according to a recent story in Politico, Clinton is leading Trump in donations from employees of defense giants like General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin by a ratio of 2-to-1.

    The unease in the industry about Trump, who has excoriated defense contractors and their lobbyists from the campaign stump, may be even more pronounced for the submarine business, which is counting on a new submarine arms race with Russia.

    After all, Trump's last campaign manager was linked by the New York Times to millions in secret payments from a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party.

    In general, Trump has emerged as the pro-Russian candidate, from inviting the Russians to hack Clinton's email to suggestions he may not defend our NATO allies in Eastern Europe against Russian aggression.

    Trump does business with Russian billionaires.

    That doesn't seem to bode well for an economy in southeastern Connecticut being primed by the promise of a new Cold War shipbuilding pump.

    It just so happens that Russia is spending billions on new nuclear-powered submarines, just as an aging U.S. fleet needs help.

    The prospect of a Reagan-sized submarine shipbuilding program must create a lot of warm fuzzies in the General Dynamics board room.

    "We are not quite back in a Cold War," retired Adm. James G. Stavridis, former supreme allied commander of NATO, was quoted as saying in a recent New York Times story about Russian submarines. "But I can see one from where I am standing."

    Standing here in the land of Electric Boat, I'd say it looks good.

    Of course, we are coming to the end of an Obama era that always looked promising for General Dynamics.

    The Crown family of Chicago, the largest General Dynamics shareholders, were early supporters of young Sen. Obama.

    He returned the favor early on, with a $750,000 earmark, back when there were earmarks, for a space center in a Chicago museum named for Henry Crown.

    General Dynamics and the Crown family did well during the Obama years. There are big new submarine contracts in place and more contemplated.

    One worry here is how to train all the people who will be needed for those new shipbuilding jobs.

    General Dynamics stock is trading more than 20 percent higher than two years ago. That can only get rosier, with bullish projections for a new Cold War.

    The Crowns are given credit by some for creating new ways of lobbying the government. They creatively spread out work on the Seawolf submarine in the early '90s to subcontractors in many different congressional districts across 30 states.

    That widened the political pain when President George H.W. Bush proposed cutting the Seawolf program.

    General Dynamics then launched its successful save-the-industrial-base lobbying campaign across the country.

    General Dynamics, including our own Electric-Boat trained John Casey, is putting its smart campaign money this election on Hillary Clinton.

    That's another good reason to vote here against Trump.

    This is the opinion of David Collins.


    Comment threads are monitored for 48 hours after publication and then closed.