Big Business Going ‘All Hands on Deck’ to Save the USS Ex-Im

by Veronique de Rugy

With opposition to the reauthorization of the federal Export-Import Bank mounting, the big businesses who benefit from its cronyism are getting ready to fight for their handouts, according to a story in Bloomberg today. When the bank came somewhat close to losing its funding two years ago, its beneficiaries were surprised. Not this time:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, Aerospace Industries Association and Nuclear Energy Institute are stepping up their lobbying to reauthorize the bank. . . .

“We’re going to be doing our damnedest to focus some minds” on Capitol Hill, Christopher Wenk, senior director for international policy at the U.S. Chamber, said in a phone interview. “We’re not going to let misinformation win the day this time around.” …

Industry groups have been coordinating their efforts to counter such opposition, said Linda Dempsey, the National Association of Manufacturers’ vice president for international economic affairs.

“This is an all-hands-on-deck effort” from the business community, she said in an interview. Officials from the nuclear industry, who want to ensure that companies can supply the technology for reactors under construction in other nations, and the aerospace industry, which is seeking to expand sales of satellites, also have been meeting with the lawmakers in recent weeks to make their case.

The groups declined to say how much they’re spending on the lobbying efforts.

“We are going to be intensely increasing our congressional outreach in the coming weeks,” according to Wenk, who said the U.S. Chamber has held hundreds of meetings on Capitol Hill to discuss the issue since the 2012 debate.

And “the National Association of Manufacturers’ effort to build support for the Export-Import Bank now includes launching a two-week ad buy on news websites frequented by political junkies and conservative activists,” Politico Pro explains this morning. 

Bloomberg reminds us who the usual suspects are here — some of America’s largest corporations. “The top beneficiaries were major manufacturers: Boeing Co., General Electric Co., and Caterpillar Inc.,” they write.

So Boeing – literally America’s top exporter – needs export support? Over at the Heritage Foundation’s Diane Katz, a research fellow in regulatory policy, has a list of the biggest beneficiaries of the bank’s subsidies. As you can see, we are not talking mom-and-pop small businesses but what she calls “monster corporations.” Here you go:

  • Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company, with a market cap exceeding $91 billion.
  • General Electric, the appliance and lighting conglomerate, valued at $267 billion.
  • Dow Chemical Co., the materials and chemicals producer, with 2013 sales of $57 billion.
  • Bechtel, the engineering and construction transnational, ranked by Forbes as the fourth-largest privately held company (by revenue).
  • Caterpillar, global purveyor of mining and construction equipment, with 2013 sales and revenues of $55 billion.
  • John Deere, the king of tractors and dump trucks, ranked 97th on the Forbes 500.

This is the 1 percent – a few well-connected businesses using the power of government to help themselves to more money at the expense of their competitors and all of us. 

For more on the Ex-Im Bank, see what I’ve written here and here. I explain why the claim that the U.S. needs to subsidize its exports doesn’t hold water here.