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GE Enlists Workers To Make Case For Ex-Im

Critics say a rally supporting the Export-Import Bank by General Electric employees in North Carolina is “political theater,” but GE says the workers simply care about their jobs.

The rally, held Tuesday at GE’s Castle Hayne campus and attended by employees of GE Hitachi and GE Aviation, was meant to demonstrate support for reauthorizing Ex-Im before its current charter expires June 30, WilmingtonBiz reports.

“GE is among several employers in the region that rely on the competitive financing options Ex-Im provides to sell products in the global marketplace,” the company said in a news release, adding that the purpose of the rally was to encourage Republican Reps. David Rouzer and Walter Jones “to do what’s right for their districts and support the Ex-Im Bank.”

Jones has not taken a public position on reauthorizing Ex-Im, but Rouzer recently sent a formal letter to GE officials and interested constituents saying he would vote against reauthorization. On the Senate side, Republican Sen. Richard Burr is a vocal supporter of the bank, while Republican Sen. Thom Tillis remains undecided. (RELATED: Rep. Flores: Ex-Im is a ‘Modern Day Enron’)

Ex-Im is a New Deal-era government agency that provides financing assistance to American exporters. Many conservative lawmakers and interest groups are hoping to prevent Congress from extending Ex-Im’s charter, which would prevent the bank from making any new loans, though it would still be able to service its existing commitments.

Supporters say the bank boosts job growth by helping exporters sell their goods overseas when credit is not available from private lenders, but opposition has been steadily mounting among Republicans who see it as a source of corporate welfare for large corporations like Boeing, GE and Caterpillar. (RELATED: Small Business Becomes Pawn in Ex-Im’s Fate)

GE Aviation media relations manager Rick Kennedy told The Daily Caller News Foundation he believes criticisms of the bank stems from a failure to understand economic realities, because Ex-Im financing is necessary for American exporters to compete with foreign rivals, most of which have access to export credit financing from their own governments.

“We compete against Rolls-Royce and against other aircraft manufacturers from other countries that have access to capital much larger than the Ex-Im Bank,” Kennedy pointed out, arguing that Ex-Im is necessary “for the U.S. to have a competitive advantage, or even just parity, in manufacturing.” (RELATED: Exporters Worried Export-Import Bank’s Days Are Numbered)

Kennedy also claimed that GE’s overall growth is heavily reliant on expanding international sales, which now make up nearly 75 percent of its business. Many of those sales, he added, are made in cash-poor countries and other “places where getting an easy credit line is challenging,” forcing GE to rely on Ex-Im for financing that would not otherwise be available.

The bank’s critics, however, take a different view, saying there is no evidence that Ex-Im financing is necessary to either make up deficiencies in the private market or offset the effects of foreign export credit agencies.

“This is political theater,” Heritage Action communications director Dan Holler told TheDCNF, suggesting the rally was inspired by vague warnings from GE that losing Ex-Im would force it to eliminate or outsource jobs.

“GE hasn’t been able to explain the real impact—in terms of jobs—the wind down of Ex-Im will cause,” Holler noted, arguing that, “Rather than scare their employees and try to coerce lawmakers, GE should be focused on the real impediments to growth.”

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