Bernie Sanders takes a shot at Boeing during Democratic debate

Mar 7, 2016, 8:08 AM | Updated: 9:23 am
Bernie Sanders called out the Export-Import Bank during the Democratic debate, referring to it as t...
Bernie Sanders called out the Export-Import Bank during the Democratic debate, referring to it as the "Bank of Boeing." (AP)

Boeing made a brief but starring role in last night’s Democratic presidential debate.

During an exchange on the Export-Import Bank, Bernie Sanders called out the export credit agency as “corporate welfare.”

“Do you know what the other name of the Export-Import Bank is, what it’s called in Washington?” Sanders asked Sunday night. “It’s called the Bank of Boeing because Boeing itself gets 40 percent of the money discharged by the Export-Import Bank. Seventy-five percent of the funds going to the federal government and the Export-Import Bank goes to large profitable corporations.”

Related: The fight against germs: Boeing introduces self-cleaning bathroom

The Ex-Im Bank has been on or near the chopping block for years. Why should we care whether it is saved or not? KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross wonders.

Dipping into the vocabulary of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, the bank is huge for Boeing, KIRO Radio’s Chris Sullivan explained.

In 2012, 30 percent of Boeing’s foreign sales were financed thru the Ex-Im Bank, according to Sullivan. In 2013, it was 15 percent.

Essentially, the bank helps foreign companies or countries that can’t afford to make big purchases to receive the financing to do so. The Ex-Im Bank guarantees those loans.

Boeing’s Tim Neale says the company would be in jeopardy of losing sales or market share if the bank were to shut down.

“Because our chief competitor, Airbus, has the support of three export credit agencies in Europe … There are customers who absolutely need a government loan guarantee to buy an airplane, so they may no choice but to buy from Airbus if Ex-Im doesn’t exist,” Neale said.

But this isn’t just about Boeing. Between 2007 and 2014, 183 Washington companies were able to line up financing for $111 billion-worth of foreign sales. Washington state is the biggest beneficiary of this bank, and considering how much the state exports, it is vital to the economy, Sullivan said.

“The explanation I’ve always heard is that this is what Airbus does,” Dave said. “We’re in a competition with Airbus. They provide this kind of finance, and they have government backing.”

“They have subsidies from the French government as well … If Ex-Im goes away, that could make it more in favor of Airbus,” Sullivan explained.

During the debate, Hillary Clinton brought up the fact that Sanders was the only Democrat in the Senate to vote against the Ex-Im Bank. But Sanders was firm on his stance that the bank was nothing more than part of corporate welfare.

Dave Ross on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

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Bernie Sanders takes a shot at Boeing during Democratic debate