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Boeing and Obama sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G

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Photo - President Barack Obama is introduced by Boeing CEO James McNerney Jr. prior to remarks to members of the Business Roundtable . (Getty Images)
President Barack Obama is introduced by Boeing CEO James McNerney Jr. prior to remarks to members of the Business Roundtable . (Getty Images)
Politics,Timothy P. Carney,Campaign 2012,Politics Digest

The Export-Import Bank is a taxpayer-backed agency that finances U.S. exports, primarily though loan guarantees.

You'd think the bank would spread the money around to nurture up-and-coming businesses. You'd be wrong, very wrong.

In fact, President Obama's export subsidy agency funneled 82.7 percent of its taxpayer-backed loan guarantees to just one exporter: Boeing. Out of $14.7 billion in long-term loan guarantees in fiscal year 2012, $12.2 billion subsidized Boeing sales, according to Ex-Im's annual report issued last week.

Welcome to the "New Economic Patriotism," where the big get bigger and taxpayers bear the risk.

Ex-Im extended three $1 billion guarantees, and all went to Boeing customers: Ethiopian Airlines, LAN Airlines of Chile and Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways. Ex-Im's fourth-largest guarantee (just under a billion dollars) didn't subsidize Boeing jets -- it subsidized satellites sold by Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems.

Ex-Im is at the heart of Obama's National Export Initiative and is a pillar of the economic patriotism that Obama pledged in a second term.

The administration celebrated this past fiscal year as "a fourth consecutive record-breaking year" in Ex-Im subsidies. But non-Boeing Ex-Im loan guarantees were actually lower in fiscal 2012 than they were in Bush's last year -- $2.54 billion last year compared with $2.55 billion in fiscal 2008. That means Obama is setting records for export loan guarantees, but literally all of the growth is in Boeing subsidies.

The Obama-Boeing friendship is intimate.

First, Obama's export czar is Boeing CEO Jim McNerney.

Also, Obama holds the record for the most money ever raised from Boeing. In 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Obama raised $200,000 from Boeing employees and executives, which was more than double the previous record and more than five times John McCain's Boeing haul. In 2012, Obama raised slightly less from Boeing: only $170,000, which was still nearly 50 percent more than Mitt Romney raised. Michael Cassel, who runs Boeing's lobbying shop, is an Obama donor.

Boeing's lobbyists during Obama's first term have had close Obama ties, including Linda Daschle, wife of former Sen. and current Obama confidant Tom Daschle. Boeing retains one of the most Obama-friendly firms on K Street -- the Podesta Group, co-founded by Obama's transition director, John Podesta.

Obama adviser Bill Daley had been sitting on Boeing's Board of Directors for five years when Obama tapped him as White House chief of staff in 2011.

Obama's 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe, spent Obama's first term making millions as a management consultant for Boeing and other companies.

Obama's first secretary of commerce, Gary Locke, was famously generous to Boeing. As Washington state governor, Locke once called a special legislative session known universally as the "Boeing Session," which ended with Locke signing more than $3 billion in subsidies for the jet-maker. When Locke became ambassador to China, Obama replaced him at Commerce with Boeing director John Bryson.

Ex-Im recently added two new board members that can be seen as Boeing representatives -- current Washington state Gov. Christine Gregoire and aerospace workers union official Owen Herrnstadt.

Boeing had been eating the lion's share of Ex-Im subsidies long before Barack Obama was even in Washington. Under Bush, Boeing got about half of Ex-Im's loan guarantees in terms of dollars. Even before Bush, Ex-Im was nicknamed "Boeing's Bank."

So it's not Obama's personal perfidy that funnels so much money to Boeing -- it's his insistence on increasing government's role in the economy, particularly in manufacturing and exporting.

When government hands out more money, the guys with the best lobbyists and the closest ties to power will disproportionately get their hands on that money.

Obama has spent four years pushing more subsidies, more bailouts and more regulations. He has touted themes like "Winning the Future" and "New Economic Patriotism" that basically amount to a national industrial policy -- Washington championing certain major domestic companies and industries, as if the global economy were an Olympic competition.

Obama typically frames his economic nationalism in populist terms, but the reality is corporatism, tilting the playing field in favor of the big guys with the best lobbyists.

Corporate profits are at an all-time high under Obama -- hitting $1.75 trillion in the third quarter of 2012, according to Department of Commerce data. And these higher profits are in fewer hands as industries consolidate. Meanwhile, median individual earnings are well below recent levels and personal indebtedness is at record highs again.

Liberals use this data to refute the charge that Obama has governed as a socialist. But the macroeconomic data actually indict Obama as a big-business corporatist. The Ex-Im annual report corroborates this charge.

Timothy P.Carney, The Examiner's senior political columnist, can be contacted at tcarney@washingtonexaminer.com. His column appears Monday and Thursday, and his stories and blog posts appear on washingtonexaminer.com.

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