Op-Ed: It's Not Closing Time on American Exceptionalism (Real Clear Politics)

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Today, manufacturing in the United States is experiencing a renaissance. It remains an economic powerhouse, propelling prosperity and the American dream forward.

Manufacturing contributes more than $2 trillion to the economy annually -- or 12 percent of the Gross Domestic Product -- and every manufacturing dollar adds $1.37 to our economy.

Last year, U.S.-manufactured exports reached an all-time high. Exports now support more than 6 million manufacturing jobs across the country, and family-owned manufacturers account for more than 96 percent of all U.S. exporters.

Last year, U.S.-manufactured exports reached an all-time high. Exports now support more than 6 million manufacturing jobs across the country, and family-owned manufacturers account for more than 96 percent of all U.S. exporters.

The good news is manufacturers in the United States make goods the rest of the world wants. But with export growth slowing, sustaining our momentum hinges upon expanding and strengthening our ability to compete in the global marketplace. 

That’s why the Export-Import Bank is so important.

The purpose of the bank is to provide loans, loan guarantees and insurance, which are not provided by commercial banks, to thousands of small and medium-sized companies that need this kind of targeted support the most. Without the bank, many aspiring manufacturers in the United States would find themselves excluded from a global economy where the odds are increasingly stacked against them.

The level of support our international competitors receive dwarfs what the Export-Import Bank gives U.S. manufacturers. Consider these facts: our global competitors use more than 60 other export credit agencies. China alone provides at least five times more support for its exporters than what U.S. exporters get from the bank. 

Meanwhile, the Export-Import Bank directly impacts just 2 percent of U. S. imports – and still yields big dividends.

In just the past five years, the bank has supported 1.2 million jobs. And, all the while, the bank has paid for itself by charging fees and interest.

In just the past five years, the bank has supported 1.2 million jobs. And, all the while, the bank has paid for itself by charging fees and interest.

The bank is a targeted tool -- a last resort to help businesses find a foothold in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Unfortunately, the crucial role played by the Export-Import Bank is not as well understood or appreciated, as it should be. As a result, the future of the important jobs-creating tool is now a hostage to Washington beltway politics.

Legislation to reauthorize the bank is stalled in Congress. The short-term extension under which the bank has been operating expires June 20.

As Congress debates, manufacturers are suffering.

They plan months if not years ahead when it comes to bringing a new product to market. They cannot commit to new product development if they have no assurance the bank will still be here. And new business, critical to American jobs, won’t materialize. 

The question facing us is elementary.

Do we want U.S. manufacturers to win overseas, or do we want our foreign competitors and their workers to swoop in and seize these opportunities?

Failing to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank is tantamount to unilateral economic disarmament.

All manufacturers and all businesses must step up and educate our leaders in Washington, who have an opportunity to lead us in the direction of more jobs, more opportunity, more prosperity, and greater hope for all Americans. They must not allow us to cede our mantle of economic leadership to our competitors abroad.

Our manufacturing achievements today are dwarfed by tomorrow’s untapped possibilities. To achieve those possibilities, we need better access to the 95 percent of the world’s population and the more than 70 percent of the world’s purchasing power beyond our borders.

The Export-Import Bank can help us secure that great vision.

The bank is a small entity meeting its mission efficiently and effectively. Only a long-term reauthorization will give manufacturers the boost they need. The time for kicking the can down the road through patchwork solutions is over.

Our leaders have a choice to make: Is the time of American exceptionalism over, or do our nation’s best days still ahead of us?

It is past time to do the right thing.


Source: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/05/30/american_exceptionalism_126786.html
Reprinted with permission from the May 30, 2015, issue of Real Clear Politics.