Ex-Im Bank creates jobs in aerospace, Machinists told

CHICAGO — The U.S. Export-Import Bank supports tens of thousands of aerospace industry jobs and does it at no cost to the taxpayer, the bank’s president told Machinists Union members at a national conference last week.

hochbergIn fact, the federally sponsored bank returned a surplus of $675 million to the U.S. Treasury last year, Fred Hochberg said.

“I was so proud of that number, I made it the password to my cell phone,” he quipped.

Hochberg spoke to Machinists from across North America – including a delegation from Machinists Union District Lodge 751 – at the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers2015 Industrial Conference in Chicago.

The bank – known in D.C. as the “Ex-Im Bank” – was created during the Great Depression of the 1930s to help U.S. manufacturers sell products overseas. It does this by helping foreign buyers obtain financing to buy products that are Made in USA.

The bank has come under fire from Conservatives in Congress, who don’t believe that a government agency should be involved in export financing – even though 85 other countries have similar programs and that companies only turn to the Ex-Im Bank when they’re unable to get other financing.

“When you’re a small operation, or you’re selling to the developing world, the private sector isn’t able to offer financing,” Hochberg said. “That’s why Ex-Im exists. We work with American manufacturers, large and small, to equip them with the financing they need to go toe-to-toe with foreign rivals.”

Last year, he said, the bank approved $20.5 billion in loan guarantees – essentially co-signing for loans that allowed $27.5 billion worth of deals to get done. That supported 164,000 U.S. jobs.

“Last year,” Hochberg said, “Ex-Im financing made it possible for 164,000 American families to breathe a little easier knowing they had a good job they could count on.”

Aerospace is the bank’s “No. 1 sector,” Hochberg said. “We support tens of thousands of aerospace jobs year-in and year-out.”

Lion_Air_Boeing_737-900ER_Spijkers-1Some of Boeing’s biggest deals ever were made possible by Ex-Im Bank loan guarantees, said IAM 751 Legislative Director Larry Brown. That included a 2012 deal with Lion Air of Indonesia, which bought record 230 737s – including 201 737 MAX  – which was worth $22.4 billion at list prices.

Last year, Congressman Denny Heck from Washington’s 10th Congressional District introduced legislation that would have reauthorized the Ex-Im Bank to operate for seven years. Instead, the bank got a short-term reprieve that runs out on June 30, when it will shut down unless Congress acts.

Hochberg told the Machinists that recently “a supply chain manager from Oregon asked me: ‘if Ex-Im doesn’t get reauthorized, what’s our Plan B?’

“I paused, and said: ‘There is no Plan B.  Ex-Im is Plan B,’” he continued. “And by the way, if Plan B goes away—if we, as a country decide to unilaterally disarm—you should know that there’s also a Plan C.  Plan C is China.  It really is as simple as ABC.”

Brown noted that the bank has support from both unions and corporate interests, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which rarely see eye-to-eye on issues

“This should be a no-brainer,” he said. “Labor supports it and Corporate America supports it, and it doesn’t cost the taxpayers a dime. But some Red State conservatives who got themselves elected by promising to shrink government have decided to kill this agency, and if it helps them get re-elected, they don’t care how many American jobs they destroy in the process.”

To contact your representative in Congress to voice your support for the Ex-Im Bank, click here.

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