The Corner

Politics & Policy

Justin Amash Introduces a Bill to Abolish the Ex-Im Bank Once and for All

For the last two years, Boeing, GE, and other giant manufacturers haven’t been able to benefit from the Ex-Im Bank. For the first five months of that period, the bank’s charter actually expired — but since then, it hasn’t been able to extend loans above $10 million.

It’s unquestionably a big victory for those of us who believe that the federal government shouldn’t be in the business of propping up the profits of big firms.

Strangely enough, Boeing and GE are still alive and kicking. Go figure. It’s as if their businesses can survive and strive without the crony institution. Strangely enough, too, U.S. exports haven’t collapsed and the sky hasn’t fallen, either.

Rest assured, both companies have found ways to get other governments to subsidize their activities. They have also been working hard on trying to get the U.S. to pass a border-adjustment tax that would exempt all their export income while hammering the income of importers. Thankfully, they seem to be failing in their efforts, despite the fact that Ways and Means chairman Kevin Brady is still hanging on to this awful tax idea, perhaps even at the cost of tax reform itself.

The good news is that on this second anniversary of the Boeing Bank’s zombification, Michigan representative Justin Amash has reintroduced a bill to terminate the Ex-Im Bank once and for all. Within 30 days of the bill passage (wouldn’t that be nice!), the agency would have to stop accepting new loan applications. I am all for that, even though I would have preferred an expedited elimination process.

Amash is joined in his efforts by a few other opponents of cronyism. Unfortunately, they are far too rare in the Republican party, and in Washington in general.

Here is the press release:

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) yesterday introduced H.R. 3114 to end the Export-Import Bank. He was joined by Reps. Dave Brat (R-Va.), Ken Buck (R-Colo.), Michael Burgess (R-Tex.), Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), and Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) as original cosponsors.

H.R. 3114, the Export-Import Bank Termination Act of 2017, shuts down the crony bank, which subsidizes loans for a few politically connected corporations at the expense of American businesses and taxpayers.

“The Export-Import Bank is a prime example of Washington’s addiction to political cronyism. Instead of allowing businesses to compete in a free market, politicians pick winners and losers. Meanwhile, taxpayers assume the financial risk for the bank’s federally backed loans while a few corporations pocket the profits,” said Amash.

H.R. 3114 phases out the Export-Import Bank over three years, eliminating billions of dollars in corporate welfare and ending the bank’s distortion of the private trade finance market.

The full text of H.R. 3114 is available here.

Happy Fourth of July to all of you Freedom Fighters out there.

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

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