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June 27, 2017

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GUEST COLUMN:

Ending Ex-Im Bank would be too risky for state businesses

You wouldn’t bet your life savings on a hunch, and our government shouldn’t gamble 1.2 million American jobs on an untested economic theory. But unfortunately, that is what some in Congress are considering.

A small but powerful group in Washington is fighting to kill the Export-Import Bank, a little-known agency that for 80 years has helped American companies export goods around the globe. Since 2007, it has worked with over 9,000 companies to support their exporting over nearly $300 billion in American-made goods. Every year, it sustains 1.2 million private-sector jobs without costing taxpayers a dime. But Ex-Im’s opponents let its charter expire.

Their rationale? A misguided view that any government activity that helps American business is an improper intrusion in the marketplace — “crony capitalism,” in their words. But Ex-Im’s services are available to help any American business selling goods abroad.

The bank’s loans and guarantees have been found by PricewaterhouseCoopers to be “at market” rates. Like any bank, Ex-Im charges its users, mostly foreign companies buying American goods, interest on its loans. In fact, because of this, Ex-Im doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime. Most years it actually returns money to the Treasury because it brings in more than it costs to operate.

Ultimately, Ex-Im’s opponents are trying to prove a point — that government has no role helping businesses succeed and shouldn’t compete with the private sector to help companies export their goods. But Ex-Im doesn’t compete with commercial banks. It is a “lender of last resort,” meaning it helps only when there is no private-sector alternative available. Companies seeking Ex-Im’s help have to go as far as showing how they couldn’t find commercial financing before Ex-Im can help.

Critics attack Ex-Im as “Boeing’s Bank,” but Boeing supports 1.5 million supplier-based jobs across the country, including thousands of high-skilled jobs in Nevada.

My company, Spacecraft Components Corp., designs and builds electrical connectors used in commercial and military airplanes, trains and spacecraft. We employ more than 125 highly skilled engineers and technicians who take pride in making parts Boeing uses to build its airplanes. Whenever we see the airplanes landing at McCarran bringing the tourists to our state, we know our company played a small role in building that plane.

Every airplane that doesn’t get built due to the attack on the Ex-Im Bank means lost jobs at every company that supplies wiring, valves, airframe components, engines, electronics, hydraulics, all the way down to the last seat cushion and folding tray table.

Ending Ex-Im isn’t just a risky bet, it’s a sure loser.

Craig Wiseman is president and CIO of Spacecraft Components Corp.

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