In the commercial sector, we're always looking for new ways to save a few pennies here and there so we can lower prices, compete better in the marketplace and get the bills paid each month.
But cut the wrong thing -- something essential -- and everything falls apart. Customers are furious, more money is wasted and soon you're looking at a full-blown crisis.
The same logic applies to the government. With money tight, our country needs to reduce our debt. That means mercilessly cutting programs and expenses that aren't essential.
But like in business, there's risk here too. Make the wrong cuts, especially in critical areas like national security and defense, and we could degrade national security and end up wasting billions, not saving them.
These are the stakes as Congress determines whether or not to continue the production line for the Navy's F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet fighter jet and its electronic attack cousin, the E/A-18G Growler.
Industry analysis estimates that the Navy needs 50 to 100 more Growlers to meet our basic security needs over the coming decades. But there is no funding for them in the current military budget.
Unless Congress includes new orders for these aircraft in the budget for 2015, the Super Hornet/Growler production line will close. That would cost far more in the long run than the short-term budget cuts could ever save.
Why do we need the Growler? Stealth used to be enough to evade enemy radar, but our adversaries now use increasingly powerful computers to triangulate numerous radar and sensors and find even the stealthiest aircraft.
The Growler jams these sensors and allows our planes to slip silently through enemy defenses. It can even use sophisticated hacking techniques to plant viruses inside enemy systems.
This is the future of warfare -- Congress shouldn't prematurely close the book on it since our enemies certainly aren't standing down!
For my company, Moog, which manufactures electro-mechanical systems that control the wings on these aircraft, it could mean a big hit to our bottom line and put American jobs at risk.
The Super Hornet and Growler depend on 274 aerospace suppliers across California, supporting roughly 20,000 direct and indirect jobs in the state.
These are highly skilled jobs we can't afford to give up.
It goes beyond the simple loss of well-paid manufacturing work. As the only American supply chain currently producing a combat-ready fighter jet, shuttering the Super Hornet and Growler could devastate our strategic manufacturing capabilities.
America has maintained an edge in air-to-air combat since the middle of the last century, in part because American engineers and manufacturers have produced the world's best fighter jets. But the exodus of experienced, skilled people from this industry would put that superiority into question.
If Congress shuts down the production line for the Growler and Super Hornet, it would be far more costly to restart it in future years when the need for Growlers or Super Hornets becomes too acute to ignore.
Companies like mine that build these aircraft will have been forced to mothball tooling, reassign or lay off workers and commit plant space to new projects.
Recreating a closed line from scratch would invariably cost more than simply keeping it open at a lower production rate today.
When you do the math, it's clear that the nominal savings Congress would gain by canceling the Super Hornet and Growler programs don't justify the enormous national security risks, the thousands of aerospace jobs and engineering know how, and the longer-term costs of restarting the lines down the road.
I hope that Congress will carefully consider this decision and ultimately take the long view.
Richard A. Aubrecht, PH.D, is the vice chairman of the board and vice president, strategy and technology of Moog Inc., which builds systems for the Growler in Torrance.