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Jerry Shenk


Charlie Dent's Corporate Welfare Revival

by Jerry Shenk
 

With market capitalization exceeding $82 billion, Boeing is the world's largest aircraft manufacturer.

In 2015's first eleven months, Boeing delivered 709 commercial aircraft. Competitor Airbus delivered just 556. The industry has 12,000 jets on backlog.

For the full year, Boeing reported "record revenue of $96.1 billion on record commercial deliveries; Operating cash flow increased to $9.4 billion; strong liquidity of $12.1 billion…; [and a]…backlog [of] $489 billion, including $83 billion of net orders..."

Boeing's 2016 investor guidance projects improvement in every metric.

Boeing employs nearly-5000 Pennsylvanians at defense-related sites in Ridley Park, Delaware County and in southwestern Pennsylvania and does business with a few small suppliers, mostly in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Congressman Charlie Dent apparently believes Boeing, a huge company employing no one in his district, to be an at-risk manufacturer unable to compete in world markets without American taxpayers' loan guarantees. Dent is leading a covert congressional attempt to fully-revive one of America's worst examples of crony capitalism, the Export-Import Bank, which primarily benefits Boeing and large lenders.

The Bank's charter expired in mid-2015, but was reauthorized in October when Dent, a few Republicans and most Democrats used a "discharge petition," to force an Ex-Im vote out of committee. Leadership then attached reauthorization to a House highway bill.

But, Senate Committee Chairman Richard Shelby blocked confirmation hearings for a third board Ex-Im board member, denying a board quorum and preventing the Bank from authorizing deals over $10 million. Accordingly, Ex-Im has been unable to back deals for huge companies such as Boeing.

Boeing has been lobbying furiously to restore their government handouts. Unsurprisingly, Boeing has found a big-government congressional Republican who confuses cronyism and free markets to advance Boeing's interests. Charlie Dent is their guy -- again.

In order to restore Ex-Im's full subsidy powers, Dent has submitted an amendment to another unrelated spending bill that would allow the Bank's board to back large deals without a legally-required three member quorum.

Freedom Partners commented: "If passed, …[Dent's amendment] …would change the rules of the bank's quorum requirement, loosening an important check on corporate welfare and giving Ex-Im Chairman Fred Hochberg, a political appointee, even more unaccountable control over the bank's subsidy authority."

And: "[Dent is] sidestepping the law…opening the floodgates to billions of dollars in…corporate welfare. This irresponsible amendment would effectively provide the Obama administration with a new Ex-Im czar with near-unilateral control over billions of dollars in foreign subsidies.

"You would expect this type of political maneuver from President Obama or Nancy Pelosi, but not from Republican policymakers…"

House Speaker Paul Ryan recently promised that old House business practices -- violating House rules and allowing controversial provisions to be slipped through without a vote and attached to spending bills -- were over. Ironic, huh?

In 2014, Charlie Dent received campaign contributions totaling roughly $40,000 from Boeing, large Boeing subcontractors and related special interests. The cash is rolling in again. Charlie wants to earn Boeing's cash by shifting big banks' lending risks for Boeing aircraft to taxpayers.



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