When Boeing Commercial Airlines recently rolled out its first SC-made 787 Dreamliner, the company’s CEO Jim Albaugh made the following request:
“The first six airplanes we are going to deliver to Air India are financed by the Ex-Im Bank and I want to thank the representives here today from South Carolina who have supported the Ex-Im reauthorization. And for those who haven’t supported it, I would ask you to,” said Albaugh.
His plea was heard by a South Carolina delegation divided over the issue.
The U.S. House is set to take up today a bipartisan bill to reauthorize fund which secures loans at low interest rates for international customers of American-based exports. Lawmakers reached a compromise Friday to extend it until 2014. Congressmen Joe Wilson (R-2nd District) and James Clyburn (D-6th District) support it. The four freshmen Republicans are still trying to make up their minds.
South Carolina’s GOP House members want to see it reformed, an idea supported by Sen. Lindsey Graham, an adamant supporter of reauthorizing the bank. He says Congress will make the end-of-month deadline.
“The House is going to come up with a reform package making the bank more efficient, probably less money to lend , tighter regulations, which I’m all for. But the idea of unilaterally surrendering and taking the bank off the table and telling our American manufacturers good luck is not the right answer. So I think we’re going to have a reform bank. I think it’s going to pass through the house with a big vote, and through the Senate, ” Graham told South Carolina Radio Network.
Graham says no other country would step back if the U.S. let the bank expire. “I’ll be in the NBA before that happens, he recently quipped.
“China has a bank, Germany has a bank, France has three banks, and Canada has a bank three times our size, ” he added. “We cannot throw Boeing and GE and all these other companies that make products in South Carolina sell them in the world marketplace and not have financing equivalent to other countries.”
U.S. Senator Jim Demint wants to defund the institution. In a recent editorial, he likened the bank to corporate welfare: ” Is it fair that foreign countries subsidize their companies? No. But, America didn’t become the world’s strongest economy by trying to out-socialize Europe, and we won’t win the future by picking winners and losers with taxpayer dollars. The American way to address subsidized foreign companies is to beat them in the free market.”
Congressman Tim Scott’s (R-1st District) constituents include Boeing workers. He says he understands both senators’ arguments. He told affiliate WCRS in Greenwood Monday, “There is no question that we are in a global economy and in a global economy it’s difficult for us to make moves without considering the ramifications,” said Rep. Scott. “I find myself examining the facts. I believe the world is not perfect but that we should shoot to make it perfect from a government’s response.”
Rep. Scott says he has asked fellow House members for a clear delineation for when the bank should stop. He says that the default rate of below two percent is good and if the rate climbs, the bank’s guaranteed loans should be frozen.
Rep. Mick Mulvany (R-5th District) recently said, “I think it’s one of those areas where the president and leadership of my party are on the same page. This issue is not shaking out along traditional party lines. That always makes for an interesting debate in Washington.”
On the other side of the aisle, Congressman Jim Clyburn says the bank is a proven institution that will create jobs in South Carolina.
Anne Eller of affiliate WCRS in Greenwood assisted with this story.