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Good News on Bomber Contract, Budget Deal

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A huge contract for a new model of U.S. Air Force bombers is going to Northrop Grumman Corp. (NGC), and a major compromise in Congress on the federal budget that increases spending both spelled good news for the Anne Arundel County economy and the region.

NGC won out over a team of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, which may still protest the award. The planes will be built in California, but Northrop’s electronics and radar operations are centered around BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.

The increase in defense spending and the end to sequestration in the congressional budget deal are also good news for the National Security Agency (NSA), the U.S. CyberCommand and other defense agencies operating out of Fort Meade, along with the contractors clustered around them.

As reported here in September, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, a principal patron for NSA and Aberdeen Proving Ground, called sequestration and its defense cuts “probably the most dangerous thing that has happened to this country.”

Dependence on Feds

The downside of this good news is that they underscore Maryland’s dependence on the federal government, and Anne Arundel County is a prime beneficiary. NSA’s presence elevates both the incomes and education levels in Anne Arundel and Howard counties.

In a September report to Maryland Business Climate Commission, Moody’s Analytics wrote: “Dependence on the federal government is a double-edged sword for the state, as it offers stability and limits growth.

“Outside neighboring Virginia, it is difficult to find another state to compare both in the amount and type of federal jobs prevalent in Maryland. Even the private sector is tethered strongly to the federal government, through professional services working closely with the government and the composition of the consumer base.

“Employment growth has been lacking in recent years and incomes, which typically track the national average closely, have also fallen off relative to the U.S. average in the last two years. This is owing to the state’s above-average reliance on the federal government, not only through direct employment, but also because of the leading high-wage private industries’ close connections to Washington through defense, research and development, and other services. The concentration of high-wage jobs is an advantage, but the other side of the coin is a below-average share of mid-wage jobs.”

Faddis Takes on Hoyer

Anne Arundel County is split into four highly-contorted congressional districts, some of the most gerrymandered in the country, but that hasn’t discouraged congressional candidates.

The latest is Sam Faddis, a retired operations manager for the Central Intelligence Agency and an author. He is running as a Republican for the 5th Congressional District seat now held by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, 76, who’s been in Congress for 34 years.

“We have ended up with a class of professional politicians, men who have never done anything else in their lives,” and Hoyer is “a poster child” for that class, said Faddis, 57 and a Davidsonville resident. He will officially announce his campaign Nov. 9, in Bowie. The district includes St. Mary’s, Charles and Calvert counties, along with parts of Prince George’s and Anne Arundel.

Faddis, a former Army officer, said he retired from the CIA because, “I was very angry about what I had seen,” and “I thought I could do more from the outside.”

An expert on counterterrorism, Faddis has written three books: Willful Neglect: The Dangerous Illusion of Homeland Security; Beyond Repair: The Decline and Fall of the CIA; and Operation Hotel California: The Clandestine War Inside Iraq, where Faddis led a covert operation.

Recently, he decided it was “time to stop recommending that somebody else do something about” America’s problem at home and overseas, and step up to the plate himself.

“We have to solve problems and get things done,” which he said he has had a lifetime of experience doing.

Fixing the Economy

On the home front, Faddis said the most significant problem is “the economy at large [and the high number of] people who have dropped out of the work force. We have to jump start the economy; we have to fix our educational system” because most good jobs now require “some kind of higher education.”

In typical Republican fashion, he says government needs to create the conditions to grow, with lower taxes and less regulation. “I’m not asking for government to go away. I’m asking government to take three steps back,” Faddis said.

Overseas, he says the U.S. needs a more forceful foreign policy. “I am not anxious to go to war anywhere. We should talk wherever we can talk.”

But every day, the country is in more danger because “when your enemies think you are weak,” they will try to take advantage of it, as China is doing in the South China Sea and the Russians are doing in Ukraine and Syria.

“We are not pushing back on them anywhere,” Faddis said. “We have no strategies.”

Daunting Task

Faddis faces a daunting task running again Hoyer. He knows it will take a lot of money and a lot of blood, sweat and handshaking. “We’re conceding nothing to Steny Hoyer,” he said.

Faddis plans to “attend every fair and every function” and says he’s already spending a lot of time in Prince George’s County, where “the economic issues resonate.”

Faddis has already had conversations with Gov. Larry Hogan, who in 1992 gave Hoyer his closest reelection bid, winning 45% of the vote. No candidate since has come as close as that to Hoyer.

The money race is not close, either. Faddis has raised $40,000 so far and has $27,000 cash on hand, according to the Federal Election Commission. Hoyer, who also distributes money to Democratic congressional candidates around the country, has raised $1.4 million in this election cycle and has $650,000 on hand.