Posted by on Nov 23, 2015 in Import-Export Bank |

Last summer, the employment situation in Bangor, Maine, was looking very shaky, with one of the city’s major employers, General Electric, threatening to move dozens of jobs away from its Bangor Plant to other plants outside of the United States. The reason why this situation came to pass is down to Congress refusing to re-authorize the U.S. Export-Import Bank.

When Congress refused to take this vital step, General Electric had no choice but to put their cards on the table. The company was up front with the media, admitting that moving some of its production to factories outside of the U.S. made sense from a commercial perspective – without the U.S. Export-Import Bank, also known as the Exim Bank, their U.S. produced goods are simply too expensive to foreign buyers.

The Role of the Exim Bank

The Exim Bank has been loaning money to foreign buyers of U.S. goods for decades and until recently, it hasn’t been a problem. The Exim Bank helps to make locally made goods and produce more competition in the global marketplace, and without its valuable input, U.S. companies like General Electric simply can’t compete with their foreign counterparts, and are then forced to start making cost saving measures – which in a lot of cases involves moving operations outside of the United States.

House of Representatives Vote

The U.S. House of Representatives voted this week to reauthorize the Exim Bank, and although it was too late for the Bangor jobs, General Electric was delighted at the news and immediately issued a statement to all current employees and suppliers to put their minds at rest. They thanked the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the much-needed legislation to reauthorize and reform the Exim Bank, and commended Congressman Fincher, Kinzinger, Lucas, and the rest of the Democrats for forcing Congress’s hand on this important economic issue.
As General Electric says, it is essential that the House and Senate are able to work together on this matter in order that the long-overdue legislation is delivered quickly and without any fuss, because without the U.S. Export-Import Bank, U.S. companies will not be able to continue building and selling American technology in the global marketplace.

A Political Minefield
Not surprisingly, the General Electric/Exim Bank issue has now become a political minefield, with Democrats accusing Maine U.S. District 2 Congressman, Bruce Poliquin, of jeopardizing local jobs. Congressional candidate, Joe Baldacci, counter accused Poliquin of not supporting the bank, but he has of course fought back with a few choice words of his own.

Poliquin denies not supporting the Exim Bank. Instead he says his primary reason for not changing his vote against the bank authorization legislation was that he believed it had become increasingly corrupt. He says he has been working on reforming the bank for many years in a bid to address the internal corruption and fraudulent activities he believed were going on, and now that many of his reforms have implemented, he is happy for his vote to count in favor of the bank’s reauthorization.

Sadly it’s too little, too late for the GE jobs lost in Bangor last summer.