Tom Cotton goes both ways on government handouts | Arkansas Blog

Tom Cotton goes both ways on government handouts

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TRUCKING: Tom Cotton (left) with Gov. Asa Hutchinson at news conference touting plan to build JLTV in Arkansas. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • TRUCKING: Tom Cotton (left) with Gov. Asa Hutchinson at news conference touting plan to build JLTV in Arkansas.

John Lyon of the Arkansas News Bureau
highlights Sen. Tom Cotton's ability to be malleable on principle when circumstances suit — this time on the $87 million in Arkansas corporate welfare for Lockheed Martin to subsidize its bid to build a military vehicle at Camden.

Cotton was front-and-center with Gov. Asa Hutchinson at a Capitol dog-and-pony show with a prototype vehicle in advance of the legislature's slam dunk vote for a handout to a company with a budget about 10 times bigger than Arkansas's.

Lyon notes that Cotton has been quoted repeatedly against government picking "winners and losers" by interfering in the free market.

Indeed, Cotton's former campaign spokesman, David Ray, now laboring for the Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity,  issued a statement decrying the handout to Lockheed. “Prosperity doesn’t come from government handouts, or by picking winners and losers — it comes from pro-growth policies that create a level playing field that enables everyone to succeed.”

Cotton naturally wouldn't talk to Lyon. He avoids talking to reporters who ask uncomfortable questions, preferring Hugh Hewitt, Fox News and local softballers.

But Lyon did get a statement from his press spokesman, Caroline Rabbitt, who also doesn't talk to sharp-edged reporters much. She seemed to wiggle a bit about whether Cotton supported Lockheed's $87 million welfare check. 

Tom supports the JLTV project because this vehicle can and will save thousands of lives,” she said in an email. “As a solider in Iraq and Afghanistan, Tom saw soldiers lose their lives who could have survived had they had this vehicle. And he would be proud to have this vehicle made in Arkansas.

“Arkansans are some of the hardest working, patriotic people around, and the pride they will put into building these vehicles will be without equal. Ultimately, it’s up to Gov. Hutchinson and the Legislature to decide the best way to make Arkansas an attractive, pro-business environment. All groups or individuals in the state are welcome to support or disagree with their decisions.”

Does she mean to say Cotton was just endorsing the so-called JLTV (joint light tactical vehicle) project for the Army and Marines, whichever of the three bidders gets it, while also touting hard-working Arkansans to do the job? 

You could be forgiven for thinking he was endorsing Hutchinson by showing up all smiley-faced at Asa's Capitol media event.

Lyon also reports that Cotton has a Lockheed connection in his woodpile. His Army buddy and now chief of staff Doug Coutts is the son of a retired Lockheed Martin executive vice president, Robert Coutts, once listed on state documents as an "owner" of Lockheed's missile and fire control facility in the industrial park near Camden where the trucks would be made. Robert Coutts and his wife contributed to Cotton's Senate campaign.

This is a somewhat nuanced picture of the man of principle, don't you think?

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