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GE to Congress: It’s your fault we’re moving 500 jobs abroad

Fight over controversial Ex-Im bank back in spotlight

Bloomberg
General Electric is moving 500 U.S. jobs overseas and it blames Ex-Im failure in Congress.

General Electric has stepped up the pressure on Washington lawmakers who are opposed to a government-run loan agency the giant U.S. conglomerate supports. GE on Tuesday said it was moving 500 American jobs overseas because of the expiration of the U.S. Export Import Bank.

The Fairfield, Conn.-based company said it was “left with no choice” but to move the jobs because Congress has failed to reauthorize the bank. Ex-Im, as it’s known, provided loans or guarantees to American companies that sell expensive goods such as airliners and jet engines to customers all over the world.

GE said it will shift the jobs from locations in New York, Texas, South Carolina and Maine. New employees will be hired by the company in France, Hungary and China.

“In a competitive world, we are left with no choice but to invest in non-U.S. manufacturing and move production to countries that support high-tech exporters,” said John Rice, GE’s vice chairman.

The company asserted that many foreign customers are unable to buy its products unless they get credit guarantees typically provided by government agencies. With the Ex-Im bank in limbo, American companies complain that the U.S. is the only large country without an export-financing government agency.

A band of mostly younger Republicans in Congress have fought a yearlong battle to try to kill off the bank, arguing that it’s a form of corporate “welfare” that mostly benefits just a handful of companies such as GE GE, -1.36% .

Backers of the bank point out that it makes money and they argue that it supports thousands of American jobs.

Earlier this summer the charter of the Ex-Im bank was allowed to expire. Although the Senate wants to reauthorize the bank, the GOP-led House has refused to go along so far.

To express their displeasure, GE and Boeing have reduced or eliminated donations to conservative lawmakers who they have supported in the past. Whether their pressure tactics work remains to be seen. Ex-Im is little known to the broader public, leaving the fight in the hands of Washington insiders.

Asked about GE’s decision, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said: “Republicans are killing quite a few jobs on their own.” The White House, constantly attacked by Republicans for what they call job-killing policies, supports the Ex-Im Bank.

marketwatch