CHRISTINE HARBIN HANSON: Shutter the Ex-Im Bank–for good

30 Jun 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Congress Leaves For Recess Without Re-Authorizing Export-Import Bank.

Tomorrow will be the first day since 1934 that an obscure federal agency will no longer be able to risk Americans’ tax dollars to subsidize big business. WASHINGTON (AP) — The Export-Import Bank expires Tuesday at midnight for the first time since the small federal agency was created during the Depression to help U.S. businesses export their products.WASHINGTON — The supporters of the federal Export-Import Bank have the Senate votes to revive it and will get a chance to do so, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday. “Looks to me like they have the votes, and I’m going to give them the opportunity,” McConnell, who opposes the bank, said in a telephone interview from Kentucky, where he is spending Congress’ July 4 recess. Minnesota Public Radio News (http://bit.ly/1FNhn8f ) says that since 2007 the bank has supported more than 200 Minnesota businesses, including 3M, and helped create $3 billion in state exports. The Ex-Im expiration is finally a bit good news for American families and small businesses who since the days of the Great Depression have had their tax dollars spent on political favoritism and corruption.

And it’s gotta go away.” But for Washington institutions, death can be just a first step toward rebirth: Democrats, along with a handful of GOP lawmakers, are already laying the groundwork to resurrect the bank, as soon as the end of July. So at midnight Tuesday, the bank will lose its authority to extend new taxpayer-backed loans to foreign purchasers of U.S. goods sold abroad, buoying conservatives who have mounted a years-long campaign to eliminate an institution they say represents the worst of big government. “This is a small step toward renewing a competitive free-market economy and arresting the rise of the progressive welfare state and the cronyism connected to it,” Rep.

Blatant examples such as bank employees taking kickbacks for loans or former Congressman William Jefferson found with $90,000 of cash found in his freezer along with other questionable activities finally became too much for ever Washington to sell to the American people. That means U.S. taxpayers would pick up the tab if, say, a company in South America defaulted on a commercial bank loan it got to buy a Caterpillar tractor.

Despite the culture of corruption at the bank, Ex-Im’s supporters have spent tens of millions of dollars in lobbying activity since the beginning of the year to convince Congress to extend their handout. Over the past several years, Ex-Im has emerged from relative anonymity to become a top target for conservative Republicans, who say the bank’s loan guarantees for U.S. exporters amount to corporate welfare. Congressional Democrats and many Republicans remain determined to reverse that step this month, launching a messaging blitz focused on potential job losses and international competitiveness.

Proponents have predictably turned to “the sky is falling!” claim in an effort to frighten lawmakers to attach bank reauthorization to “must pass” piece of legislation. Bank supporters are hoping to engage in parliamentary maneuvers calibrated to overcome the opposition of key GOP leaders even as a solid majority of lawmakers appear to believe the bank should continue its work. “They are bending to the hard right,” Sen. The seller wants to know that you have financing and can close the deal — so typically you come with a letter from a bank that says you can get a mortgage.

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) hasn’t stopped his two top deputies from plotting to eliminate the agency, as the right has made the issue a reliable litmus test for presidential hopefuls and congressional candidates. While much of the business community and Democrats say it’s critical to reauthorize the bank, conservative critics say the agency provides “corporate welfare” for big businesses. “I do understand one person’s corporate welfare and politically-driven capital allocation is another person’s vital export support program and level playing field,” he said. Transportation funding runs dry on July 31 and Republicans are loath to miss that deadline in the middle of the summer construction season, particularly after they blew a deadline earlier this spring and allowed key provisions of the PATRIOT Act to lapse for two days.

And they say the bank amounts to “crony capitalism” and the government picking winners and losers. “Where is the fairness in giving Washington politicians and bureaucrats the power to pick who gets helped and who gets hurt?” asked GOP Rep. Prospects in the House are less clear — though there, too, enough Republicans are thought to be willing to join with Democrats to renew the bank’s charter. At a recent Christian Science Monitor breakfast, he said that just the threat of Export-Import’s charter expiring is already hurting small businesses like Ellicott Dredges that depend on it for credit insurance for overseas sales.

But that was before a fierce lobbying campaign by some of the most formidable forces in conservative activism, including Heritage Action for America, the Club for Growth and the industrialist billionaires Charles and David Koch. The bank’s expiration is an opportunity for private financiers to fill in for the remaining 2 percent of exporters that have been receiving Ex-Im financing. Hochberg laid out a dire scenario if the bank stops lending: “You will see layoffs, you will see lost business — and we are already seeing foreign governments and foreign companies start taking advantage of the uncertainty.” But Boehner has resisted drawing lines in the sand, committing instead to House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) that the House will be allowed to amend any Export-Import Bank revival that clears the upper chamber. “The only commitment the speaker has made on the Export Import Bank is to Chairman Hensarling, who asked that — if the Senate attached Ex-Im to a ‘must pass’ bill and sent it over to the House — he be allowed to offer amendments under an open process,” Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said Monday. Despite the undeniable fact that the sky will not fall with the banks expiration, many in Congress are already plotting to resurrect Ex-Im in a backroom deal.

David McKinley (R-W.Va.) said he wants to modify the bank so that it isn’t used as often for large corporations’ benefit and it backs off its “ideological warfare” on his state’s coal industry. Of the $20.5 billion in financing and insurance authorized by the bank in 2014, just over $5 billion of that was for small business exporters, according to bank officials. Cantor was dispatched last year by an anti-Ex-Im conservative primary challenger, and McCarthy, upon assuming the majority leader post, quickly announced his opposition to another renewal. Rather than relying on failed New Deal policies America should look to eliminate costly mandates and red tape to encourage job growth and help raise wages of hardworking Americans.

Supporters warn that even a short-term shutdown could disrupt some deals that are in the pipeline, but any impacts would likely go unnoticed by the vast majority of the public. Bank supporters cite 2014 statistics showing Ex-Im loans supporting $27.5 billion worth of exports and 164,000 U.S. jobs, but detractors say private lenders will step up to fill the void. “You’ve got to start somewhere,” said Rep. The group’s vice president of grassroots outreach, former Hensarling aide Russ Vought, helped coordinate the effort through weekly phone briefings with the network.

Knowing that, bank proponents pushed so hard and vocally for a vote on Ex-Im before its expiration — but they stopped short of attaching it to a recently passed fast-track trade bill, which could have killed the fragile coalition that sent the trade package to President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature on Monday. Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Senate Democrat, was recently pessimistic on the chances of reviving the bank, noting that the task gets “increasingly difficult” once the charter has expired. But that vote has caused tension between McConnell and Democrats like Cantwell, who has suggested that was not what she had in mind when she voted to advance the trade legislation over a liberal-led filibuster.

Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) had an animated discussion during the Senate’s second trade vote last week, with Heitkamp arguing that the Ex-Im clearly has the votes to pass the Senate. “We know that there were commitments made, or understandings, that weren’t necessarily carried through on,” Heitkamp fumed late last week as GOP leaders pointed to that nonbinding vote. “I don’t know how anyone can look at that and say that was a fulfillment of a commitment.” “Sen.

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