By Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) - 07/07/14 08:23 PM EDT
Thirty years ago, President Ronald Reagan said, “Exports create and sustain jobs for millions of American workers and contribute to the growth and strength of the United States economy. The Export-Import Bank contributes in a signiﬁcant way to our nation’s export sales.”
Three decades later, his words still hold true.
As the official export credit agency of the United States, the Ex-Im Bank assists in financing the export of American goods and services to international markets. The bank is important to our country’s economy and should be renewed before its charter expires on Sept. 30.
In my home state of Indiana, since 2010, the Ex-Im Bank has directly helped more than 90 companies export more than $1 billion in goods and services overseas. Last year alone, the bank provided $27 billion in export financing for U.S. companies, which in turn supported $37 billion worth of exports and more than 200,000 American jobs.
Further, since 1992 the bank has returned more than $6 billion in profits to the Treasury Department, with $1 billion of that total coming just last year.
While some opponents of the bank contend that it’s a big-business handout, in 2013, approximately 90 percent of transactions were for small businesses, benefitting job creators and workers across the country.
American companies make some of the best and most innovative products in the world. I have proposed an “opportunity agenda” to strengthen America’s economy, in part by expanding exports and looking for more opportunities for American companies to sell their products both at home and overseas.
At a time when American companies often are competing in a game rigged by foreign currency manipulation, intellectual property theft and insurmountable regulatory barriers, unilaterally eliminating our export credit agency would further handcuff U.S. job creators while allowing competitors in foreign countries to capitalize.
Today, nearly every other major country in the world has a credit export agency designed to support and create jobs, and most are larger and more aggressive than our Export-Import Bank. Our global competitors, including China, Brazil and India, are investing more in export financing. Even our neighbor Canada is providing nearly three times more in export financing than the U.S., and Canada’s economy is one-tenth the size of ours.
Instead of strengthening our still-recovering economy and providing stability and certainty to American job creators by reauthorizing the bank, some in Congress are threatening to deal a damaging blow to one of the most effective tools American businesses can use to support jobs and compete in the global marketplace.
What will happen if the Export-Import Bank is not reauthorized? The loss of financing could result in a number of businesses losing overseas contracts. Take, for example, Jeco Plastic Products in Plainfield, Ind. The bank has supported $5 million worth of its export sales in recent years. That includes a contract with Volkswagen in Germany, which uses Jeco plastic pallets to move heavy automotive parts. Without the bank, Jeco could lose the Volkswagen order, which is worth approximately $80 million over the life of the contract. This is important not only to the business itself, but to its 35 employees and the families these jobs support.
If the Export-Import Bank no longer provides financing, foreign companies and countries will still buy goods and products. Instead of buying a product made in Muncie, Ind., however, they’ll purchase a product made in Russia or China. Congress should not allow this to happen.
The bank has garnered support from every president during its 80-year existence and has been repeatedly renewed by Congress without controversy. It was most recently reauthorized in 2012 with the support of more than 75 percent of Congress.
I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating: most Americans think Congress can play some role in improving the economy — even if that role is simply not making things worse. Unfortunately, this is yet another example of some in Congress choosing partisan gridlock over what’s right for our economy.
In Indiana, we pride ourselves on having common sense. It doesn’t get much more common sense than creating more American jobs in a fiscally responsible way, which is exactly what the Export-Import Bank does. With the clock ticking, Congress needs a dose of Hoosier common sense, and should move swiftly to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.
Donnelly is Indiana’s junior senator, serving since 2013. He sits on the Armed Services and the Agriculture committees, and on the Special Committee on Aging.