The New York Times has a deep dive today on the lobbying over the future of the Export-Import Bank, which expires July 1. In Congress, it has a lot to do with the tea party wing vs. business wing of the Republican Party.
It also has a lot to do with Atlanta’s Delta Air Lines vs. Boeing. From Jonathan Weisman and Eric Lipton:
Delta has spent nearly $10 million on lobbying since 2012, at least in part to kill the Ex-Im Bank or greatly diminish loan guarantees for Boeing customers abroad, according to lobby disclosure forms…
What is at stake for Boeing is clear. The purchase of Boeing’s big jets can run to the hundreds of millions of dollars, and even wealthy state-run airlines like the Persian Gulf’s Emirates Air might demand a United States government guarantee to help them get private loans that large. Boeing is by far the bank’s biggest beneficiary, a situation that has led critics of the credit agency to deride it as a vehicle for “crony capitalism” and “corporate welfare.”
…Delta’s stake is somewhat murkier. The airline claims that rivals like Air India and Emirates have used Ex-Im guarantees to lower their borrowing costs, then used the savings to cut ticket prices on international routes that compete with Delta or buy still more new jets. Judge Rudolph Contreras of Federal District Court, in a 72-page ruling that may have ended four years of litigation, scoffed that $12 million in interest savings over 12 years would have that kind of power, calling Delta’s argument “unpersuasive and contrary to the record in this case.”
In September, one of our own noted in this space that all of Georgia’s Republican House members had voted to kill the bank in the past, while the senators had voted to save it with some reforms. And a Georgia company is taking Boeing’s side:
The meat of the matter, the real reason that your congressmen have kept mum, is that the fight over the Export-Import Bank has everything to with the U.S. aircraft industry – those who fly the planes versus those who make them. In Georgia, it pits hometown hero Delta Air Lines against business-plane manufacturer Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., a rising industrial star on the Georgia coast.
There has been no vote scheduled yet on reauthorizing the bank — expect something right near the deadline, per usual — but it’s likely that GOP leaders will try to curtail the bank, short of killing it.
One more note: Last month, we reported on Delta’s pending loss of a $23 million-a-year tax break on aviation fuel purchases. GOP state lawmakers cited the airline’s positions on religious liberty legislation (against) and immigration reform (for) as aggravating factors.
Obviously, the Ex-Im Bank is an issue on which the airline and tea partyers should be allies, if only ironic ones.
Republican activist and radio host Ashley Bell sends word that state Rep. Scot Turner, R-Holly Springs, and several county GOP leaders made the trip to Louisville, Ky., where U.S. Sen. Rand Paul this morning became the second Republican to formally enter the 2016 race for the White House.
Gov. Nathan Deal has an appointed a well-connected Republican attorney as head of the head of the state’s indigent defense system, according to the Daily Report. Bryan Tyson is an associate in the firm of Strickland Brockington Lewis. One of its principals is Anne Lewis, counsel for the Georgia GOP. Tyson has served as an aide to U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Coweta County, and was engaged at the state Capitol for several years on redistricting matters.
Tyson replaces Travis Sakrison, who was recently named by the governor to a superior court judgeship.
Last month, Attorney General Sam Olens had to cancel an appearance before the South Hall Republican Club because of the problematic execution of Kelly Gissendaner, whose date with death was postponed because of questions about the drug that was about to dispatch her.
On Monday, Olens consented to a make-up appearance before the Flowery Branch group. Access North Georgia pick it up from there:
“So why didn’t somebody think to check the drug the day before to make sure it wasn’t cloudy?” Olens was asked from the audience during the final segment of the meeting.
“That’s a discussion I’m not going to have publicly,” Olens answered; he then added, “That’s a discussion that we will have sooner than you think.”
“I know the answer to that question but now’s not the appropriate time for me to have that discussion. By now we know all the facts involved in that, and that will become known sooner than later in that regard.”
U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, is leading a “religious liberty” fight in the U.S. Navy, on the side of a Lt. Cmdr. Wes Modder who was removed from his unit after his fellows complained of his views on homosexuality and sex outside of marriage. From the Daily Signal:
Last week, Collins, along with 34 other members of Congress, came to Modder’s defense in a letter demanding that the Navy “provide information on the nature of the accusations and investigations” and “confirmation as to what steps the Navy is taking to reinforce the policies and protections in place for service members and chaplains to freely exercise their religiously-informed beliefs.”Though Collins contends that chaplains have a responsibility to “self-monitor” their language, the congressman also says that Modder’s beliefs shouldn’t come as a surprise to those seeking his counsel.
“He’s not going to give an atheist perspective if he has a cross on his uniform,” Collins said. “That’s just not going to happen and it shouldn’t be expected to happen.”
Collins, an Air Force Reserve chaplain, served in Iraq in 2008.