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Can a bitter policy argument be settled by the real world? For once, yes.

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In terms of total revenue, Boeing, the aerospace giant, had its best year ever in 2018, with worldwide sales of $101.1 billion.

Exports were particularly robust. Commercial jet deliveries to foreign airlines rose from 763 in 2017 to 806 last year. Overall the company has a 5,900-order backlog for airplanes worth a staggering $412 billion, according to The Post last week.

Congratulations, Boeing! You have created jobs for workers and value for shareholders. The only losers might be your Washington lobbyists. Their argument that Boeing and other U.S. makers of big-ticket manufactured products cannot compete internationally without taxpayer help, in the form of government-guaranteed credit from the Export-Import Bank, has been badly undercut.

For the past three and a half years, Ex-Im, as the trade-finance agency is known, has been essentially paralyzed, yet Boeing has gone from strength to strength.

We may be witnessing that rarest of phenomena in Washington: finally, a tedious, often bitter, policy argument settled through a real-world experiment.

What an argument it has been. Founded in 1934 by the Roosevelt administration to aid sales to the newly recognized Soviet Union, Ex-Im morphed into a source of federal loan guarantees to many other foreign purchasers of U.S.-made goods.

A handful of giant U.S. corporations benefitted most, with Boeing leading the way. In........

© Washington Post