The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, March 15, 2016 9:51 pm

Short-sighted opposition ignores Ex-Im's benefits

Michael L. Parin

Hoosiers don’t ask for much from outsiders, and we certainly aren’t looking for special favors from Washington. But we do expect our leaders to stand up in the best interests of American jobs and keep the playing field level against foreign companies and governments that are trying to move our jobs overseas.

Instead of focusing on these basics, some in Congress are making it harder to compete. They are fighting to close down a critical tool for exporters – the Export-Import Bank.

Many Americans have never heard of the Ex-Im Bank, a small government agency that provides financing, loan guarantees and insurance to companies selling "Made in America" products internationally. Since 2007, Ex-Im has helped nearly 9,000 American businesses export almost $300 billion in goods, supporting 1.2 million jobs. That may not seem like a lot compared to the total number of American businesses, jobs and goods sold over the same span. But think of the effect the absence of these dollars, jobs and sales would have had on our economic recovery. 

Any government agency chartered during the Great Depression is due for thorough review and, if needed, modernization. Standards and technological advances applicable to the 21st century should be adopted. But the bank itself must survive. 

Unfortunately, opponents have blocked its re-authorization. Yet despite a bipartisan supermajority of supporters in the Senate, House Speaker John Boehner decided not to consider the issue prior to the summer recess.

His reasoning could be seen as a surrender to the stance taken by critics of Ex-Im. Or it may have been a tactical retreat allowing additional time during the recess for voters and House members to consider the important part Ex-Im plays on growing and sustaining American jobs. 

If efforts succeed, Indiana will be among the hardest hit, especially small businesses that rely on Ex-Im to break into the global market. About 90 percent of Ex-Im transactions involve small and medium-sized firms.

Our company, Damping Technologies, is a modern high-tech integrated design, engineering and manufacturing company operating here in Indiana. We provide custom-manufactured products that damp vibrating structures. Aircraft, spacecraft and heavy equipment use our products to limit excessive motion, extend component life and reduce noise levels. Most of our products end up incorporated into larger products that are major export items. Our company provides 44 Indiana families with stable employment and growth opportunities. The elimination of Ex-Im would needlessly subject these families to the agony stemming from the uncertainties during the time required for customers to find acceptable alternatives to fulfill Ex-Im’s historic functions. 

Critics hold Ex-Im up as an example of "crony capitalism" and "corporate welfare." Yet these same critics either ignore or are uninformed of the essential role the bank plays in assisting the likes of Indiana’s farmers in bringing their bountiful crops to the people of the world. Large corporations are easy targets – but that demagoguery ignores the fundamental truth that every Dreamliner export made possible by Ex-Im financing includes hundreds and thousands of subcomponents made by many intermediate and small companies, including ours, in our state and throughout the country. 

The critics also claim Ex-Im hurts taxpayers despite the fact that the bank pays for itself. Because the companies using the bank pay fees and interest, Ex-Im doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime. Most years, Ex-Im makes a profit. Last year alone it returned $675 million to the Treasury.

Ex-Im is critical to our state. Hoosiers of all political stripes should urge an up-or-down vote on its future as soon as Congress returns from summer recess.

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