The Corner

Economy & Business

Exposing GE’s Political Bullying

Yesterday I explained why GE’s threatening to “move” 400 to 500 jobs to France was nothing more than political bullying. Since then, many more people have weighed in to expose the company’s deceptive behavior.

Over at the Washington Examiner, Tim Carney has this great bit about GE’s courting the French for over a year with promises to move 1,000 jobs there in exchange for approving a merger with French power giant Alstom.

“From France,” General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt declared last May, “we can create the technology the world needs.”

“Some might even mistake GE for a large French company,” the executive told French lawmakers in Paris, “that is, of course, until you hear my American accent . . . ”

For more than a year, Immelt and GE officials have waved the tri-color and pledged to be good partners with France in an effort to win approval for a merger with French power giant Alstom. The heart of GE’s charm offensive in Paris: the promise that GE would move 1,000 jobs to France.

European and U.S. officials finally approved the deal September 8.

Once the deal was done, however, GE began crying wolf and saying that the French jobs were actually due to the Ex-Im bank’s being liquidated in the U.S.

G.E. goes on to say that in spite of its massive revenue, market caps, and profits, it has no choice but to pursue a non-U.S option since the federal government will no longer extend new cheap loans to it through Ex-Im. Give me a break!

Over at Fox News, Diane Katz of the Heritage Foundation exposes how ridiculous this is:
GE certainly has benefitted from billions of dollars of taxpayer largess. However, that does not mean that affordable export financing is not otherwise readily available — even from within GE itself. General Electric Capital Corporation holds assets of $499 billion, posted net income of $7 billion last year, and employs 47,000 people.

As noted in its 2014 annual report, “We see a significant advantage in our ability to bring financial solutions to industries like aviation, energy and healthcare.”

Private financing is also readily available, as reflected in the record levels of U.S. exports in recent years — 98 percent of which do not receive Ex-Im support. Indeed, lending to GE is a pretty safe bet considering that the company has a market cap of $255 billion and annual revenues of $149 billion.

Based on previous statements, I assume Senator Bernie Sanders would stick to his previous comments about not buying the assertion that G.E. can’t get credit without Ex-Im. A few months ago​, Ramesh reported this statement from Sanders:

You are going to tell me with a straight face that General Electric, which itself is one of the largest financial institutions in America, cannot get loans anyplace else but from the taxpayers and the workers of America, many of whom have lost their jobs from General Electric?

Economist Dean Baker has a new piece exposing once again the nonsense and vitriol coming from pro-Ex-Im advocates:

The Washington elites have gone into near hysteria over the possibility that Congress will not renew funding for the Export-Import Bank.

Newspapers like The Washington Post, along with many top columnists, have spewed vitriol and resorted to name-calling against opponents of the Ex-Im Bank.

For example, New York Times columnist Joe Nocera repeatedly cited Senator Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., calling opposition to the bank “idiotic.

He then proceeds to show how it is their arguments that do not hold water. Better yet, he exposes the hypocrisy of a bunch of people (Democrats, really) who claim to be free-traders in other instances but switch position when it allows them to defend large corporations like Boeing and GE.

(Jackie Calmes, if you are reading this, you may want to update your piece about Ex-Im opposition being driven exclusively by illiterate tea partiers.)

Finally, Senator Toomey takes on Ex-Im and GE in an Erie.com op-ed today. A tidbit:

While its stated mission is to “facilitate exports of U.S. goods and services,” in reality the Ex-Im Bank forces American taxpayers to subsidize Chinese businesses and other foreign governments and corporations when they buy products from favored American companies. . . . 

Supporters of Ex-Im attempt to justify the taxpayer subsidies by arguing that other countries around the world subsidize their exports and, therefore, we must subsidize ours. Yet, somehow 99 percent of American exports manage to be completed without Ex-Im support.

I responded to this argument that we should imitate the misguided policy of other countries by offering legislation to facilitate the mutual and reciprocal winding down of global export subsidies. Unfortunately, President Obama, unlike presidential candidate Obama in 2008, prefers the status quo.

The dishonesty and bullying from these giant companies and the complaisance from lawmakers who support them at the expense of the American people makes me want to scream. I wonder how long the American people will accept and endure this before they say “enough already” and demand change.

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