President Barack Obama promised to boost support for U.S. manufacturers such as Boeing Co. (BA) that are facing subsidized foreign competition as part of his drive to increase exports.

Expanding on proposals he outlined in his State of the Union address last month, Obama will announce plans for Export- Import Bank financing for U.S. companies for domestic as well as overseas sales to match foreign competitors’ sources of official funding.

The bank will give “American companies a fair shot by matching the unfair export financing that their competitors receive from other countries,” Obama said in the text of remarks today at Boeing’s jet factory in Everett, Washington, which has more than 35,000 employees.

Obama toured the Boeing plant, providing him with an industrial backdrop for his manufacturing initiatives. Boeing has 80 percent of its $296 billion jetliner backlog from buyers outside the U.S., making the Chicago-based company pivotal to Obama’s plan to double exports in five years. The plane maker plans to increase commercial-jet production by more than 60 percent between 2010 and 2014.

The facility Obama toured before speaking is just north of Seattle where Boeing builds wide-body jets. Erected in 1967, it remains the world’s biggest building by volume and houses the production lines for the 747 jumbo jet, 767, 777 and the new 787 Dreamliner, which was Obama’s backdrop. Air Force One, the presidential 747, was assembled there.

Boeing a Symbol

“The president has embraced U.S. manufacturing, and Boeing is an iconic symbol of U.S. success,” said Harley Shaiken, a labor professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

In his State of the Union speech, Obama called for a program to provide credit to companies competing against foreign counterparts that benefit from preferential credit from their governments.

The administration “will actively employ its existing authorities so that the Export-Import Bank can provide U.S. firms competing for domestic or third-country sales with matching financing support to counter foreign non-competitive official financing that fails to observe international disciplines,” the White House said in a statement released in conjunction with Obama’s Boeing visit.

Critics, such as the Club for Growth president Chris Chocola, said the expansion would just create a “corporate welfare slush fund” for companies with good lobbyists, like Boeing.


“Boeing spent over $12 million lobbying Congress last year, and in return, is getting billions of dollars in Export- Import Bank financing,” Chocola, head of the anti-tax advocacy group, said in a statement. “Congress should end the federal bank of Boeing, and instead promote more international trade through corporate tax reform and lower tariffs.”

Hmmm, this can go either way - "corporate welfare" on one side or more "state intervention" into a free market. Maybe it is both?

I know Lloyd wants to be like China though...........