The Export-Import Bank


This
country has a $6 trillion national debt, a growing deficit, and
is borrowing money from the Social Security Trust Fund in order
to fund government services. We can no longer afford to provide
over $125 billion every year in corporate welfare—tax breaks,
subsidies, and other wasteful spending—that goes to some of
the largest, most profitable corporations in America. 

One
of the most egregious forms of corporate welfare can be found at
a little known federal agency called the Export-Import Bank, an
institution that has a budget of about $1 billion a year and the
capability of putting at risk some $15.5 billion in loan guarantees
annually. Over 80 percent of the subsidies distributed by the Export-Import
Bank goes to Fortune 500 corporations. Among the companies that
receive taxpayer support from the Ex-Im are Enron, Boeing, Halliburton,
Mobil Oil, IBM, General Electric, AT&T, Motorola, Lucent Technologies,
FedEx, General Motors, Raytheon, and United Technologies. 

Many
of these same companies pay exorbitant salaries and benefits to
their CEOs. IBM, for example, gave their former CEO, Lou Gerstner,
over $260 million in stock options while they were lining up for
their Ex-Im handouts. 

The
great irony of Ex-Im policy is that in the name of “job creation”
a substantial amount of federal funding goes to corporations that
are eliminating hundreds of thousands of American jobs. American
workers are providing funding to companies that are shutting down
the plants in which they work and are moving them to China, Mexico,
Vietnam, and wherever else they can find cheap labor. 

For
example,
General
Electric has received over $2.5 billion in direct loans and loan
guarantees from the Ex-Im Bank. What was the result? From 1975-1995
GE reduced its workforce from 667,000 to 398,000, a decline of 269,000
jobs. While taking the Ex-Im Bank subsidies, GE was extremely public
about its “globalization” plans to lay off American workers
and move jobs to third world countries. Jack Welch, the longtime
CEO of GE stated,
“Ideally,
you’d have every plant you own on a barge.”
 

General
Motors has received over $500 million in direct loans and loan guarantees
from the Export-Import Bank. The result? GM has shrunk its U.S.
workforce from 559,000 to 314,000. 

Motorola
has received almost $500 million in direct loans and loan subsidies
from the Ex-Im Bank. Only 56 percent of its workforce is now located
in the United States. 

According
to Time Magazine, the top 5 recipients of Ex-Im subsidies
over the past decade have reduced their workforce by 38 percent—more
than a third of a million jobs down the drain. These same 5 companies
have received more than 60 percent of all Export-Import Bank subsidies.
Boeing, the leading Ex-Im recipient, has reduced its workforce by
more than 100,000 employees over the past 10 years. 

Here
are a few examples of taxpayer dollars at work: 

  • The
    Export-Import Bank has provided an $18 million loan to help a
    Chinese steel mill purchase equipment to modernize their plant.
    This Chinese company has been accused of illegally dumping steel
    into the U.S.—exacerbating the crisis in our steel industry. 
  • Since 1994,
    the Export-Import Bank has provided $673 million in loans and
    loan guarantees for projects related to the Enron Corporation,
    leaving taxpayers exposed to $514 million. The Ex-Im Bank approved
    a $300 million loan for an Enron-related project in India, even
    though the World Bank repeatedly refused to finance this project
    because it was “not economically viable.” 
  • The Export-Import
    Bank is subsidizing Boeing aircraft sales to the Chinese military.
    According to the President of Machinists’ Local 751: “Boeing
    used to make tail sections for the 737 in Wichita, but they moved
    the work to a military factory in Xian, China.” 
  • The Ex-Im Bank
    insured a $3 million loan to aid General Electric build a factory
    where Mexican workers will make parts for appliances to export
    back to the United States. This project is responsible for the
    loss of 1,500 American jobs in Bloomington, Indiana. 

On
and on it goes. If the Export-Import Bank cannot become a vehicle
for job creation in the United States, it should be eliminated.
American citizens have better things to do with their money than
support an agency that provides welfare for corporations that could
care less about American workers.                        Z 


Barry
Sanders is an independent member of the House of Representatives
from Vermont and a ranking member of the House Financial Services
Subcommittee.