Another nine months of limbo for the federal Export-Import Bank spells big trouble for Washington exporters, large and small. A decision by Republican House leaders last week not to debate the bank’s reauthorization and kick the matter down the road is every bit as much a failure as the squabbling last year that shut down the federal government. Alas, an argument that doesn’t happen never gets as much attention as an argument that does. So Washington state needs to be attentive and place the blame where it is due, for missed business opportunities, sales that go to companies in other countries, and the first step toward a unilateral disarmament that will wreak havoc on Washington’s largest business, Boeing. House GOP leaders last week decided not to permit a vote on bills that would have extended the nation’s export-credit agency for a longish term of five or seven years. Instead they slipped a more modest proviso into the usual “continuing resolution” that allows the federal government to continue functioning, keeping the bank alive until next June 30. Certainly it was better than allowing the 80-year-old institution to expire on Sept. 30, which is what would have happened otherwise. But it is an unwarranted genulflection by Republican leaders toward a faction within the party’s ranks that sees the bank as an affront to free-market principles.More
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In this Washington, the idea that a federal agency helped Boeing sell 106 airliners last year might have us doing handstands, especially when we learn that it didn’t cost taxpayers a dime. The Export-Import Bank of the United States did it by offering $7.9 billion in loans, loan guarantees and credit insurance to foreign purchasers of Boeing aircraft, the same sort of thing it has done for the last 80 years.
Leave it to the other Washington to turn things upside down. Critics in Congress say this represents failure. They are leading a crusade to shut down the bank, on grounds that its lending to large corporations represents “corporate welfare” and crony capitalism.”
Somehow conservative rhetoric has been harnessed for a cause that will hamper America’s ability to compete in markets abroad, and the argument is so lofty it drifts in the direction of outer space. But here’s what counts. If Congress fails to reauthorize the bank by Oct. 1, the little guy gets whacked just like Boeing does. It’s not just the Bank of Boeing.More