First They Came For The Ex-Im Bank…

Dave Johnson Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

Republicans have shut down the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank because a vehement minority of them don’t believe the American government should have a role in helping American companies compete in the world. Republicans also don’t believe that the American government should do things that make the American people’s lives better, so now they are threatening to shut down the whole government. Again.

Ex-Im Shutdown

Republicans have shut down the Ex-Im Bank. The bank provided financing guarantees to foreign customers of U.S. exporters, when those customers could not obtain other financing. Most countries do this to help their businesses compete in world markets, resulting in wealth and jobs for the people of their countries.

The bank provides this finance assistance to customers of American companies – not tax breaks, payments, subsidies or other favors to the companies themselves (“corporate welfare”). It does not provide financing favoring one company over other companies based on which companies have connections (“cronyism”). In fact – though this is not the purpose of government – the bank makes a profit for the government on its activities thanks to fees it charges.

A Koch brothers-financed campaign against the bank claims that the government should have no role in helping American companies compete in the world. As I wrote in March, in the post “Koch Network Takes On Export-Import Bank”:

The Koch brothers and their supporters want the Ex-Im Bank killed because it is government. The Koch brothers hate government, period. The Kochs and other “libertarians” believe that government is “collectivism” that “interferes” with business. They do not believe that government should do anything at all, other than provide a military and protect private — their — property. They do not even believe our own government should help our own country’s companies. They believe there is no “national” interest, only the interests of individual businesses — and ultra-billionaires like themselves.

The Kochs were successful. The bank is shut down. When the Kochs want something, the Republican Party likes to deliver it to them.

The Cost Of The Ex-Im Shutdown

Even though the Ex-Im Bank has only been shut down for a few months, the costs are already mounting. Other countries provide this assistance to their companies, so companies like Airbus, Siemens and China Rail get the business that might have gone to U.S. companies (and their workers.)

Here are just a few examples:

● Alabama’s Process Equipment, Inc., (also known as ProcessBarron), is losing business “especially for the replacement parts orders. Their competitors in Europe, that still have access to their own export credit agencies, will be able to scoop up their business and add jobs overseas instead of in Alabama.””

● Illinois’ Digital Check, when the Ex-Im Bank’s authority lapsed, “lost the ability to add new buyers under their existing insurance policy. Without insurance, Digital Check can’t do new deals, the company can’t grow in new markets like India and Brazil … and American jobs are at risk. CEO Tom Anderson recently told the Chicago Tribune that he ‘anticipates losing $300,000 in revenue in the Indian market and $250,000 in the British market, because it cannot access new lines of credit from Ex-Im.”

● General Electric is moving 500 jobs out of the country, to countries that do provide this financing. If they didn’t move, companies from other countries would get the business, so GM is moving to keep its business. That’s just too bad for American workers. This is not GE’s fault. Those jobs were gone from the U.S. the minute Republicans shut down the Ex-Im Bank:

G.E. announced that it would move about 400 jobs to France, whose own export credit agency offered financing for gas turbines, and relocate 100 jobs to Hungary and China to get credit for customers of its advanced aircraft gas turbines. The jobs would shift from New York, Maine, Texas and South Carolina.

● Boeing immediately lost two contracts to sell satellites overseas. (Up to 15 percent of Boeing’s aircraft exports are dependent on Ex-Im support.)

Boeing announced Tuesday that it had lost a bid to sell satellites to a Singapore-based satellite operator, Kacific, because the aerospace giant did not have the backing of a governmental export-credit agency. This news came two months after Boeing similarly lost a contract with ABS Holding, based in Bermuda, and said it would be reducing the workforce in its satellite- manufacturing business, in part because of uncertainty over the Ex-Im Bank.

These are just a few of a number of job-loss stories from small and large companies resulting from this ideology-based attack on our government and its role in helping Americans. And this is all just after the bank was shut down. As time passes these losses will mount. Again, other countries provide this kind of assistance to their own companies to help them compete in world markets. This is unilateral disarmament by the U.S., for no clear reason other than anti-government ideology from a cult that believes that anything government does is bad, period.

As Ex-Im Goes, So Goes The Nation

First they came for the Ex-Im Bank. Now it looks like conservatives might be about to shut down the whole U.S. government. Again.

These corporate-backed conservative Republicans hate government. They make that very, very clear. They hate the idea of government standing up for ordinary Americans against the billionaires and giant-corporations that provide their funding. They hate the idea of “government spending” on things that make the lives of We the People better – good, modern infrastructure, roads and other transportation systems, good (and free) schools and higher education, good healthcare programs, good pensions, and they especially hate the idea of government providing good protections against the frauds and scams that the giant corporations inflict on us at every opportunity.

These corporate-conservative Republicans can always come up with “reasons” they say are forcing them to shut the government. While their reasons change and change again, and then change some more, shutting down the government they hate (and threatening to force a default on our government’s bonds) remains a constant. Again and again.

The only reason conservatives don’t just permanently shut down the whole government, high-five each other, say “good job,” and then go home for good is they are afraid they’ll be “blamed” for the consequences, despite their current “reason” for doing it. And they will be. We still have representative government where We the People get a say – at least to some extent – and they’re afraid of that.


This has been reposted from the Campaign for America's Future.

Johnson also is a fellow at the Commonwealth Institute and a Senior Fellow at the Institute for the Renewal of the California Dream. Follow Dave Johnson on Twitter: