It’s Not Just Conservatives Who Oppose the Export-Import Bank

by Ramesh Ponnuru

In the past, plenty of Democrats have been sharply critical of the Export-Import Bank.

Rep. Rob Andrews (D., N.J.) said in 2011, “I’m not a big fan of the Export-Import Bank. . . . Very often what the Ex-Im Bank does is corporate welfare.”

In 2004, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.) railed against the bank for subsidizing GE and other companies that “ship jobs overseas.” He too labeled these subsidies “corporate welfare.” Supporting Rep. Nadler’s legislation to restrict these subsidies, Rep. Ted Strickland (D., Ohio), later to become his state’s governor, used the same terminology.

Around the same time, Bernie Sanders (D., Vt.), then a representative and now a senator, grilled the head of the Ex-Im Bank: “You are going to tell me with a straight face that General Electric, which itself is one of the largest financial institutions in America, cannot get loans anyplace else but from the taxpayers and the workers of America, many of whom have lost their jobs from General Electric? Are you going to tell me that with a straight face that GE is a struggling small business, a minority business in the barrio of New York, and they just cannot find financing, look as hard as they can. Poor GE. You are going to tell me that and the American people with a straight face?”

Conservatives have been at the forefront of the recent fight over the Ex-Im Bank, but liberals have recognized the weakness of the case for its subsidies too. Let’s see how many Democrats still do.

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