The Corner

The Sad State of Republican Cronyism

The Hill reports that Republicans in Congress are fighting dirty to give the Democrats what they want: an Ex-Im Bank with full lending authority and even less accountability than before.

Earlier this summer, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) and Graham attached amendments to appropriations bills that would allow the Ex-Im Bank to operate for up to three years with only two board members, instead of three.

With those appropriations measures now stalled, Dent said there is substantial support on both sides of the Capitol for including his quorum amendment in the [Continuing Resolution]. . . . 

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said he thinks there is a lot of support for ensuring the bank is fully functional again.

“I don’t have any problem with that,” Cole said. “I wouldn’t vote against the CR because it didn’t have that, but I certainly wouldn’t have any objections if it did. I think a lot of people are in that category. Hopefully it can make it.”

Asked how much GOP support there would be, considering the conservative opposition to Ex-Im, Cole predicted “a fairly substantial number” of Republicans would back it.

This is shameful on so many levels.

First, Ex-Im is the mother-of-all-crony programs. On the domestic side, 64 percent of Ex-Im financing benefits just ten large corporations; 40 percent benefits Boeing. Think about that. There is an agency whose entire reason for being appears to be to promote the specific welfare of a handful of corporations. On the foreign-buyer side, the top beneficiaries include state-owned companies such as Pemex, the Mexican oil-and-gas giant, and Air Emirates, the airline of the wealthy United Arab Emirates.

Also, as Brendan Bordelon wrote in his great piece in July 2015, Ex-Im is the place where deals made at the Clinton Foundation (the friend of many large U.S. corporations) and countries like Saudi Arabia become reality.

The story begins with an alliance between Dow Chemical, a corporation tied closely to the Clintons, and a Saudi Arabian oil company. Dow joined forces with Aramco, a firm owned by the Saudi royal family, in 2011. Together they founded Sadara, a corporate alliance seeking Ex-Im Bank financing for a $20 billion petrochemical plant in the Saudi desert.

In the end, the Clintons’ friend and the Saudis got $5 billion in Ex-Im direct loans. And guess who’s a big beneficiary of Dow Chemical campaign donations? Our friend, Representative Charlie Dent.

Second, the Dent amendment makes a joke of Speaker Paul Ryan’s promise that the old way of doing business — e.g., violating House rules and allowing problematic provisions to be snuck through without a vote and attached to a funding bill — was over.

Third, if Dent and Graham succeed, whatever remains of Ex-Im oversight will be even lighter than before — and the Bank’s accountability spottier than ever.

Fourth, the Democrats will have once again proven that they can count on Republicans to achieve their goals, all of their goals, no matter how much they part from free-market and small-government principles.

Finally, read this piece by the Heritage Foundation’s Diane Katz about what it means for Boeing, Iran, and taxpayers.

This latest effort to override Ex-Im’s charter just happens to coincide with news from Tehran that the Iranian government expects the U.S. Treasury to grant licenses by month’s end for Boeing Co. to sell the Islamic regime, the world’s foremost sponsor of state terrorism, a fleet of new jets.

The $17.6 billion deal between the aviation giant and Iran was made possible by President Barack Obama’s lifting of economic sanctions against Tehran in January. Under terms of a memorandum of agreement, Boeing reportedly will supply 80 planes — including intercontinental jumbo jets — to state-owned Iran Air. Financing for the purchase has not been announced.

And you wonder why the Republicans are in trouble? Wonder no more.

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

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