Economy & Business

The Corner

Two Weeks without Ex-Im, and the World Is Still Standing

It’s been almost two weeks since the Ex-Im Bank was set to enter liquidation. As I suspected, the economy didn’t collapse and the world is still turning. Boeing and Caterpillar haven’t announced their plans to relocate to another country. Yet the pro-Ex-Im lobby is going all out with op-eds in local papers and radio ads, trying to persuade the American people that they have to keep subsidizing giant exporters. Lawmakers may be ready to give the program a new lease on life, but it’s far from clear that ordinary Americans care.

According to a Morning Consult poll conducted shortly before the Export-Import Bank’s charter expired on June 30, a slim majority of voters said they supported the idea of offering financial support to American export. But more specifically, in an April poll, 41 percent of voters said they had no opinion about Ex-Im, only 27 percent supported its reauthorization (33 percent of Democrats, 18 percent of Republicans), and 33 percent (28 percent Democrats, 44 percent of Republicans) supported letting the bank’s charter expire. 

It’s Democrats — Hillary Clinton among them, whose connections to the cronyist institution were most recently detailed by NR’s Brendan Bordelon – who are the corporate shills keeping the bank alive. But not all Democrats support the bank: There are a few outliers, such as congressman and presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders and Representative Alan Grayson.

In fact, this morning in USA Today, former Democratic representative Dennis Kucinich from Ohio joined forces with Republican representative Jim Jordan, a conservative who’s oppose the bank, to make the case against Ex-Im:

As a liberal former congressman and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, and a Republican congressman who chairs the House Freedom Caucus, we agree with then-candidate Obama that the Ex-Im Bank is little more than a fund for corporate welfare. And we are united in the belief that taxpayers should not be forced to support welfare for some of the world’s largest companies.

While it began as a New Deal-era program with good intentions, the Ex-Im Bank has become a slush fund for a handful of well-connected megacorporations. Efforts to reform the bank, including one by Kucinich in 2002, have ended in disappointment.

The bank has also failed to comply with reforms that are on the books. Additionally, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigations have uncovered that the bank is rampant with potential fraud and abuse. The bank’s inspector general is investigating 31 cases, with one indictment and more possible….

Presidential candidates on both sides rightly oppose the bank. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and nearly every Republican candidate want it to expire. But now that the environment is right to let the bank wind down, lobbyists for Boeing and other favored companies are trying to sway Congress with “Chicken Little” tales of woe and the unstated understanding that campaign dollars will flow to those who toe the Big Business line. This is wrong.

Like then-Sen. Obama, we agree that it’s not right for Congress to defend every government institution. Sometimes, reforms are no longer enough to rescue a program. That’s the case with the Ex-Im Bank. It’s time to let it expire.

The op-ed is a nice contrast from their other famous Ohio congressional colleague, Speaker John Boehner, who’s been a solid supporter of Ex-Im. The whole thing is here

Veronique de Rugy — Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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