The head of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) praised Republican lawmakers’ efforts on new tax legislation while encouraging the more radical Tea Party contingent to back down from their attack on the US Export-Import Bank.
In a speech at the group’s annual holiday luncheon in Washington DC today, chief executive David Melcher chalked up the Republican tax plan as a win for AIA’s civil and defence members, noting the permanent reduction in the maximum corporate income tax rate and repatriation of overseas revenues promised in the legislation.
But Melcher’s last speech as CEO also presents a paradox, with AIA celebrating a tax bill that will decrease revenue for the federal government while simultaneously calling for a more robust defence budget.
Melcher also criticises the Republican-led Congress’ reluctance to reauthorise the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank, which remains without a board quorum despite being reauthorised in late 2015. Before the lender went dormant, the export credit agency supported on $9.5 billion in exports annually from 2011 to 2015, but today the figure has plummeted to $57 million, he says.
“This is a source of great frustration for me; when I came onboard at AIA, the Ex-Im Bank lacked an authorisation and was under threat from a few ideologues in Congress,” Melcher says. “Today, still, it lacks a full complement of directors and can’t approve export deals over $10 million in value.”
Melcher cites a healthy 2017 for defence, with $110 billion in US sales and $32 billion in foreign military sales. Looking ahead, he hopes the Trump administration revisits the International Traffic in Arms Regulations and reduces barriers to defence exports.
AIA also paints a positive picture for future space developments. The Trump administration has restored National Space Council, which develops policy for civil, commercial and national security activities in space.
More recently, the White House directed NASA return to the moon, but Melcher cautions that these lofty goals must also be adequately resourced over the coming years.