Taunton, MA. — With potential discussions on federal spending and tax policy looming on Capitol Hill, U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III visited Taunton Monday and toured defense contractor General Dynamics C4 Systems’ facility.
“It was an incredible morning, and I understand a little bit more about the products General Dynamics puts together, particularly WIN-T, which will be so instrumental for our troops abroad,” Kennedy said, standing in front of a Humvee equipped with a battlefield communications system.
Last year, the Department of Defense considered diverting $400 million from WIN-T, or Warfighter Information Network Tactical, a military communications system produced by General Dynamics. The program, a component of the Army’s network modernization plan, provides voice, video and data communications for commanders and soldiers. The WIN-T contract ultimately avoided cuts last summer.
Sworn into office less than two weeks ago, Kennedy is replacing Barney Frank as the 4th Congressional District’s representative in the U.S. House.
When the discussion of spending cuts comes up, Kennedy said he’ll “stress the importance of keeping programs that work and provide essential services.”
When troops move into an area, they must bring network and communications infrastructure with them, said Chris Marzilli, president of General Dynamics C4 Systems.
“We’ve miniaturized the technology and embedded it in the command vehicles,” he explained.
General Dynamics employs more than 1,000 people at its Taunton facility. Statewide, General Dynamics’ salaries total $322.3 million, and vendor expenditures exceed $868 million, according to the company.
It is important, Marzilli said, for elected officials in Washington to get a first-hand look at the program, especially with potential federal budget battles on the horizon.
“This happens to be the Army’s No. 1 priority, network modernization,” Marzilli said. “This happens to be a very successful program.”
Kennedy said he’s hopeful that Congress “learned a lesson” from the recent fiscal cliff showdown and is ready to make the tough decisions needed to address the federal budget.
“Kicking the debt ceiling one month, two months, that’s not solving anything,” Kennedy said.
“I hope a long-term deal will get done,” Kennedy said. “Everyone realizes there are going to be some difficult fiscal decisions.”
A comprehensive long-term solution, Kennedy said, will include both spending cuts and revenue increases. He said he favors lowering rates, broadening the base and closing loopholes in the tax policy.
Kennedy added that Congress will need to go through the budget “with a fine-toothed comb” to identify ways to save money.
While he points to the need for long-term budget reforms, Kennedy also said that when the time comes for the next debt ceiling vote, Congress cannot lose sight of the immediate issue.
“I hope we’re not going to reach the point where we get to the debt ceiling,” the freshman legislator said. “It has nothing to do with spending. It’s about paying the bills we’ve incurred.