An Overdue Farewell to the Export-Import Bank

AP Photo
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

Ronald Reagan famously said a “government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.”

If President Reagan were alive today, he would no doubt have much to say about the seeming immortality of the Export-Import Bank.

The Export-Import Bank (often referred to as simply the “Ex-Im Bank”) is one of the most corrupt entities in Washington, DC. That’s a weighty statement for sure. In a town where K Street lobbyists abound and the news is littered with stories of crony backroom deals and special-interest payouts, it is remarkable that the Ex-Im Bank stands out as one of the worst offenders of corruption. What is even more remarkable is that politicians on both sides of the aisle continue to defend the Ex-Im Bank. That there are Republicans and Democrats rushing to re-authorize the Ex-Im Bank further demonstrates that “crony capitalist wheeling and dealing” is a bipartisan sport.

Established shortly after the Great Depression, the Ex-Im Bank was intended to provide government loans to U.S. companies to do business abroad. The purpose of the Bank, as initially conceived, was to help the United States compete in a global economy and to ensure that U.S. products entered the global market. As is often the case with government programs, what began as a small-scale program eventually morphed into a massive, wasteful, unaccountable government organization. Today the Bank offers loans to large corporations (Boeing being one of the largest welfare recipients of the Bank) based on political connections and crony favoritism.

Late in June, as Congress closed out its session before the July 4th recess, one of the things Congress failed to fund was the Export-Import Bank. Funding and authorization for the Bank expired on June 30th. Today, if you visit, you will see in large print: AUTHORITY HAS LAPSED. For those of us who have argued over the years that Ex-Im has far outlasted its usefulness, those are refreshing words on the Bank’s website.

Out of $2.2 trillion in U.S. exports in 2013, less than two percent benefited from Ex-Im financing. Of that 2 percent, 87 percent of the funding helped only three companies – Boeing, General Electric, and Caterpillar. The Bank existed in the past several years for the sole purpose of propping up Big Business and those three companies benefited from taxpayer funds, at the expense of many smaller businesses.

But even now, as we celebrate the end of the Bank and its abuse of tax dollars, we are hearing from some Members of Congress – including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – that they intend to resurrect the Ex-Im Bank.

The fight in Washington over a taxpayer-financed bank that most Americans have never even heard of is about something far more important than the future of the Ex-Im Bank. In reality, this fight is about whether or not politicians in Washington will put Americans’ needs above the desires of their corporate pals who pump money into their campaign coffers.

At Tea Party Patriots, we are firm believers in holding elected officials accountable. Today we are calling on Members of Congress in both the House and the Senate and from both political parties to give the taxpayers a break and let the Ex-Im Bank remain an unfunded government entity. It will not be missed.


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