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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

Category: Export-Import Bank
March 19, 2012 at 9:55 AM

‘Boeing’s bank’ is essential to U.S. exports

The Export-Import Bank of the United States has been around since 1934, supported by both political parties, with a mission to help provide financing for the sale of U.S. exports. Now, as part of its anti-everything mission, the political right wants to turn the routine reauthorization of Ex-Im into yet another cudgel with which to cripple the Obama presidency. Columnist George Will, once a Tory of somewhat independent views, calls it “Boeing’s Bank” and laments the losers it creates.

He quotes a Delta Air Lines executive saying that if Delta had received similar help, ” ‘it could have saved approximately $100 million a year in financing costs’ and could have used that money to hire more workers ‘or even purchase additional aircraft from Boeing.’ ” Or not. Much of that theoretical $100 million would likely have gone to added executive compensation. In 2010, Delta’s CEO received more than $8 million from the corporate treasury, 237 times the median workers pay. Delta would as likely have purchased from Airbus, rich in its own subsidies.

Delta’s argument is that it is being undercut on foreign routes by carriers, such as Air India, which bought Boeing airplanes with the help of Ex-Im financing. According to the Wall Street Journal, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor “views the bank’s activities as improper government interference into the private marketplace, putting taxpayers at risk. The U.S. government is ultimately on the hook for bank losses, though the bank consistently earns profits that are returned to U.S. taxpayers.”

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