The Corner

Economy & Business

Marco Rubio Is Right about Ex-Im

Last week, Senator Marco Rubio — not only a prominent GOP senator but also a candidate for president in 2016 — came out strongly against the Ex-Im Bank. Within hours, the pro-Ex-Im lobbyists were sending e-mails all over the Hill trying to debunk the senator’s arguments against the bank. Time for some debunking the debunkers?

One email entitled “Setting The Record Straight: Rubio is Wrong About Ex-Im” reads like this: 

Today on a conference call with Americans for Prosperity leadership, Senator Marco Rubio made false claims about the Ex-Im Bank, misrepresenting an agency that actually supports over 850 companies and 52,000 jobs in his state of Florida.

Here’s one big problem with these numbers: They represent total jobs and companies supported from 2007 to 2014. That’s right — over eight years, not just this year. So on average, Ex-Im says it’s supporting about 106 exporters per year and 6,500 jobs per year in Florida. Now, let’s say you’re still impressed that, in a given year for Florida, Ex-Im supported 107 exporters and only 7,000 jobs.

But even this isn’t really the case. Here’s some data from just 2014:

In 2014, Ex-Im, according to its own site, supported 339 exporters from Florida.

There were over 61,489 exporters in Florida that year. So  most of them — 99.5 percent, in fact — exported without the help of ExIm​

In 2014, there were about 44,508 companies in manufacturing in Florida, and 270,473 U.S. jobs supported by exports. The theoretical 6,500 jobs supported by Ex-Im is just 2.4 percent of the total export jobs in the state.

Some more numbers: In 2014, ExIm supported $1 billion in export value, while Florida businesses exported $58.6 billion worth of good and services.

That means, in 2014, ExIm backed only 1.71 percent of Florida exports. 98.29 percent of Florida exports happened without Ex-Im subsidies. 

The e-mail continues:

Companies like DemeTech in Miami and Southeast Hay Distributors in West Palm Beach have spoken out, saying an Ex-Im shutdown puts Florida jobs at risk. However, Rubio’s statements indicate he isn’t listening.​

I think Rubio is listening fine — he’s just also listening to the victims who suffer from the unfair competition supported by Ex-Im.

The Ex-Im Bank places the 98+ percent of unsubsidized Florida businesses at a competitive disadvantage: It subsidizes competitors’ costs and artificially boosts their profits. Unsubsidized firms, meanwhile, find it harder to attract capital and expand their businesses, even if they produce a superior product or service. The subsidized get richer and the unsubsidized get poorer.

The e-mail continues with the same debunked arguments we’ve heard before: The “205,000 jobs” that it claims to have supported last year amount to fewer than 2 percent of all export-related jobs in 2013. And besides, the number is likely overstated: The Government Accountability Office has criticized Ex-Im for failing to consider the downsides to the bank’s activities.

A final note, to other lawmakers: With almost no exception, the data in your state looks very much like the data for Florida. Take a hint from Marco Rubio.

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

Most Popular

World

Ilhan Omar’s Big Lie

In a viral exchange at a congressional hearing last week, the new congresswoman from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, who is quickly establishing herself as the most reprehensible member of the House Democratic freshman class despite stiff competition, launched into Elliott Abrams. She accused the former Reagan official ... Read More
U.S.

Questions for Those Who Believed Jussie Smollett

The “we reported the Jussie Smollett case responsibly” contention has been blasted to smithereens. Twitter accounts and headlines in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times reported as fact Jussie Smollett’s wildly implausible allegations, and many other journalists did so as ... Read More