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Export Import-Boeing Relationship Illuminates Washington's Crony Capitalism Problem

Boeing's government piggy bank now also has a revolving door: After directing millions in taxpayer cash to the manufacturer, an ex-government banker has now taken cushy job with Boeing.

A plane comes in for a landing at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) at dusk November 1, 2013. Earlier in the day a gunman opened fire with an assault rifle inside the airport, killing a security agent, creating scenes of chaos and causing widespread flight disruptions. (AFP/Getty Images)

Boeing is no longer just getting the vast majority of the Export-Import Bank’s funding — it’s now attracting its top talent as well.

The aircraft manufacturer brought on Kevin Varney, former chief of staff at the ExIm during Obama’s first term, as a director this month – during a time when ExIm is trying to distance itself from the “Boeing’s Bank” label. This is just the latest development in the revolving door between Boeing and the bank.

It’s no secret that Boeing is the largest beneficiary of ExIm financing, receiving about 40 percent – a staggering $8 billion – of the bank’s authorizations, which were originally intended to support “small” U.S. businesses in making investments overseas.

In the past, their cozy relationship has resulted in Boeing crafting bank regulations beneficial to their interests. According to emails obtained by The Wall Street Journal, Boeing worked with Bank officials back in 2012 to write their own rules that would quell concerns from members of Congress and the domestic airline industry, without hurting Boeing’s bottom line. Part of the conditions for Congress to reauthorize the bank’s charter in 2012 was the requirement that officials publish their methodology for determining which transactions were approved and which needed an additional “economic impact review” – absent from that requirement were aircraft purchases, a carve out agreed to by executives at Boeing and Bank officials.

A plane comes in for a landing at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) at dusk November 1, 2013. Earlier in the day a gunman opened fire with an assault rifle inside the airport, killing a security agent, creating scenes of chaos and causing widespread flight disruptions. (AFP/Getty Images) A plane comes in for a landing at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) at dusk November 1, 2013. (AFP/Getty Images)

These actions only hurt jobs and our domestic airline industry here in the United States. In fact, a study by the Airline Pilots Association of America estimates that the bank’s subsidizing of Boeing airline purchases abroad has forced our domestic airlines to cut about 7,500 jobs – decreasing the airline workforce by almost 2 percent.

Even ExIm’s defenders must admit that every dollar that is directed to a massive business—say Boeing, whose own executives have conceded the firm could secure traditional, private financing—is a dollar that a small business does not get.

It’s corporate cronyism at its worst that there is such close coordination between a major corporation and a taxpayer-funded institution. The good news, however, is that the bank is set to expire on June 30. And for once, Congress can and should do what it does best: nothing. Let it expire.

ExIm is nothing more than a cache of corporate welfare and politically connected special interests. Providing no net benefits, it’s also a drain on the American taxpayer. While big business benefits, the taxpayers pick up the tab as Ex-Im spends billions of dollars on loans to foreign corporations, some of which do not align with America’s interests.

The Congressional Budget Office forecasts that the bank will cost taxpayers $2 billion over the next 10 years, with no tangible benefit to our economy. Despite ExIm supporters’ claims, according to a recent report by the Congressional Research Service, not reauthorizing ExIm would have no impact on current contracts or financing arrangements.

While serving in the U.S. Senate, even President Barack Obama recognized that the bank is “little more than a fund for corporate welfare.” It’s time to stop this revolving door of money and influence on the backs of American workers and taxpayers.

It’s high time to end the Export-Import Bank.

TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.

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