The Corner

Economy & Business

2016 Opposition to Ex-Im Grows: Perry Down, Santorum and Graham to Go?

Today in the Wall Street Journal, former Texas governor and likely presidential hopeful Rick Perry explains why he now opposes the Export-Import Bank. This is a complete reversal in his position on what’s become an increasingly important test within the Republican party. The corruption at the bank make it impossible for him support reauthorizing the bank, which has to happen by June 30, even though he’s backed it in the past. He writes:

Next month, the bank comes up for reauthorization again—but this time I can’t get on board. I have been deeply disturbed by recent revelations of corruption and bribery at the institution. On April 13 the Justice Department announced that a former Ex-Im loan officer,Johnny Gutierrez, had pleaded guilty to accepting bribes on 19 separate occasions from people with interests before the bank.Michael McCarthy, Ex-Im’s acting inspector general, has told Congress that there are 31 corruption and fraud investigations into the bank still pending.

Those at Ex-Im who have abused the public trust must be pursued to the full extent of the law. But it may be that the best way to mend Ex-Im is to end it.

Governor Perry is right: Corruption, lack of transparency, and refusal to respond to congressional demands are real issues at Ex-Im. But the problems go deeper — even without scandals, there’s no reason to keep running a special-interest subsidy like Ex-Im. The right way to help U.S. companies compete globally, Perry rightly points out, include reforming the corporate-tax code, reducing the federal debt, and reforming the regulatory system.

Most other Republican presidential contenders share Perry’s view, including Senators Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, former governor Jeb Bush, and Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. The only ones left standing on the side of the New Deal agency (and the side of congressional Democrats, Hillary Clinton, and President Obama), as far as I know, are former senator Rick Santorum and Senator Lindsey Graham. Perhaps Governor Perry’s change of heart will inspire them?

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

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