Congress fights over Export-Import Bank funding

John Dimsdale Mar 19, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: There’s a debate going on in the Senate this week over extending the life of the Export-Import Bank It would ordinarily be a sleepy fight that even the biggest Washington insiders might gloss over. But it’s turned into a bruising corporate battle between airplane maker Boeing and some of its biggest customers.

Here’s our Washington bureau Chief John Dimsdale.

John Dimsdale: The Export-Import Bank offers cheap loans to foreign companies that buy American. The bank might underwrite a low interest loan to Ethiopian Airlines, for example, to order a Boeing airplane. That’s good for manufacturing jobs here at home. But it gives Ethiopian Airlines an advantage over its American competitors, who have to pay more for their planes.

Aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia says that’s why U.S. airlines that fly overseas, like Delta or US Airways, are lobbying against expanding the Ex-Im Bank.

Richard Aboulafia: It’s unquestionably true that jetliner manufacturing is a huge job creator and big engine of economic growth.  And exports are the overwhelming bulk of that. On the other hand, you can’t pick winners without hurting somebody at home. And from the airlines perspective, that’s exactly what’s going on.

The Senate is considering a $40 billion boost to the Ex-Im Bank’s loan portfolio. Politicians favor anything that creates manufacturing jobs. That’s why Aboulafia expects the amendment to pass.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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