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Obama discusses US investment with execs from major companies Republicans must unite to scrap Ex-Im Bank: lawmaker

WASHINGTON, May 21, (RTRS): President Barack Obama gathered executives from several major international companies on Tuesday, including Ford Motor Co and Deutshe Lufthansa AG, to discuss a White House initiative to encourage investment in the United States. The White House says the program, SelectUSA, has assisted in winning more than $18 billion in business investments in 17 states and territories. Obama, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and other economic advisers joined the executives in a discussion about their US investments. “We have the most dynamic and creative and innovative economy in the world, but we don’t always do what it takes to go after business around the world and make sure that they know the benefits of investing in the largest market on Earth,” Obama said at the beginning of the meeting, addressing reporters.

“And we want to be more systematic about it. We want to make sure that the federal government is working in sync with state and local governments when it comes to locating businesses here in the United States.”
Companies represented at the meeting included Swedish telecom supplier Ericsson and Zurich NA, a subsidiary of Switzerland’s Zurich Insurance. “These businesses have recognized the many advantages of locating, growing and hiring in the United States,” said Jeff Zients, director of the White House National Economic Council, in a conference call with reporters on Monday.

Lufthansa Chief Executive Carsten Spohr said low energy prices and infrastructure were good reasons for companies like his to invest in the country. “I think the United States has discovered or re-discovered that industrial jobs are creating value, that you need to attract those investments into the country,” he told Reuters in an interview after the meeting.

Republicans must get behind a push to scrap the US Export-Import Bank when its charter comes up for renewal later this year to end handouts to big business, a senior lawmaker said on Tuesday.
“Today I call upon every Republican in Congress to let Ex-Im expire. Let the American taxpayers exit Ex-Im once and for all,” Republican Representative Jeb Hensarling said in a speech at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “Its demise would clearly be one of the few achievable victories for the Main Street competitive economy left in this Congress. I believe it is a defining issue for our party and our movement.” Hensarling called for a reform of the tax code as well as phasing out subsidies to farmers and federal housing programs, but most of his comments were focused on the Ex-Im Bank. His opposition could be a hurdle to renewing the bank’s charter because the Texas lawmaker chairs the House Financial Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over Ex-Im and would normally be responsible for drafting legislation to extend its operations past the current expiry date of Sept. 30.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate should vote on extending the charter. The Export-Import Bank was established 80 years ago to help finance exports of US goods and services. It backed $37.4 billion in exports in 2013. Although the bank had strong support in Congress when its charter was last up for renewal, its business supporters worry about the influence wielded by Hensarling, who has been touted as a possible candidate for a Republican leadership position after November’s midterm elections. He declined to directly address that issue on Tuesday, saying he did not rule out any options but would be happy to return as committee chairman. Ex-Im, which returned a profit to Treasury last year, has urged Congress to extend its lending limit by $20 billion to $160 billion and allow it to operate for five more years. Almost 20 percent of new lending in 2013 was to small businesses, although most support is for big projects such as aircraft, which account for nearly half outstanding loans.

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