Thorner: Congress trying to pull a fast one to revitalize Ex-Import Bank

July 21, 2015

Monday, July 20, 2015

By Nancy Thorner – 

Congressional authorization for the Export-Import bank lapsed as of July 1, 2015. As a result, the bank cannot engage in new business, but it can continues to manage its existing loan portfolio. While closing Ex-Im will help to free the market and end corporate welfare, its advocates are still trying to reauthorize the bank.

Thanks mostly to intense opposition from a large faction of conservative Republicans, including Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, who said the bank was a “waste of tax money” and “a form of corporate welfare”, the federally backed bank was left to expire at the end of June. Not surprising is that some Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and most Democrats, still support the bank’s return, arguing that it helps small businesses and supports U.S. jobs.

 

Linking Transportation Bill to Ex-Import

Now a good probability, and as predicted by Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, senators plan to attach a provision to revive the Export-Import Bank to a transportation funding measure that is headed to the Senate floor. The transportation funding bill is a “must pass” measure that guarantees money for critical highway and infrastructure projects. It needs to clear Congress by the end of this month to prevent summer construction projects from grinding to a halt.

Even though Senate Majority Speaker McConnell (R.Ky.) doesn’t support the extension of the bank, he did strike a deal with Democrats on recently passed trade legislation that allowed a vote on extending the bank, which failed, while later agreeing to attach it to the transportation bill. Notwithstanding, some Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and most Democrats, support the bank’s return, arguing that it helps small businesses and supports U.S. jobs.

If and when the Senate passes the highway bill with the Export-Import Bank provision attached, the House will take it up.  But should the highway bill pass with the attachment, it has been reported that House conservative opposed to the bank will do everything in their power to split the two issues through a parliamentary maneuver, even if it means blocking the resolution to advance the measure and begin debate.

 

Why Ex-Imp bank should remain expired

There are currently 92 members of the House of Representatives who publicly oppose the Bank, as does every major Republican Presidential contender, as well as millions of Americans who have joined the fight against it.

Below are ten facts you should know about the Export-Import Bank that represent crony capitalism:

  • Boeing, GE, and Caterpillar received 87% of Ex-Im loan guarantees in FY13.
  • The Ex-Im Bank provides export financing for just 0.009 percent of America’s small businesses.
  • The vast majority of exporters—98 percent—do not receive assistance from the Ex-Im Bank.
  • Export financing doesn’t create new jobs, it merely redistributes jobs across America’s economy.
  • Among the top 10 buyers of Ex-Im exports, 5 are state-controlled and rake in millions of dollars from their own governments in addition to Ex-Im Bank subsidies.
  • There are 31 open corruption and fraud investigations into the bank.
  • The top beneficiaries of Ex-Im also have massive backlogs of orders, meaning jobs would not be lost when the bank expires.
  • Ex-Im subsidies benefit China, Venezuela, Cuba, and Russia. State-owned foreign airlines have received $16 billion in subsidized financing since 2009.
  • Taxpayers are on the hook for nearly $140 billion in the Ex-Im loan portfolio.
  • The companies advocating for the reauthorization of Ex-Im have admitted they do NOT actually need it.

What If Transportation Bill Is Toxic by Itself? 

As stated earlier in this article, the Highway Trust Fund’s authorization will expire on July 31. Long unsustainable, the trust fund contains large diversions for mass transportation and other wasteful projects. Congress is currently considering a 6 month, $11 billion bailout for the fund, but real reform is needed, not bailouts! Here is an excellent backgrounder on the Highway Trust Fund.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL06) have introduced the Transportation Empowerment Act (TEA) which would return control of highway decisions back to the states, thereby eliminating wasteful diversions and ensuring that highway dollars fund highways.

As stated in an article by Michael Sargent, a research assistant at Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation, “Why We Can’t Have Nice Highways and Bridges”:

“Every American who buys gasoline pays 18.3 cents per gallon to the federal government’s Highway Trust Fund, which was created in 1956 to pay for the construction and maintenance of the interstate highway system.

But in recent years, the Highway Trust Fund has expanded to spend motorists’ tax dollars on things that have little to do with highways. For instance, the Transportation Alternative Program, created in 2012 to replace a variety of “transportation enhancement” programs and funded out of the Highway Trust Fund, siphons funding that otherwise would go to highway construction to a variety of projects that were traditionally in the hands of local government.”

 

Action to take: Call your Representatives and Senators and ask:

  • “Do you plan to vote in favor of bailing out the Highway Trust Fund at the end of July?
  • “If the Export-Import Bank reauthorization is attached, how will you plan on voting?”
  • Let them know that the Highway Trust Fund has little to do with highways and that the Ex-Import bank stands for crony capitalism.  The bill should be opposed.

Conservatives forced the Ex-Im Bank to shut down and prevented a long term bailout of the Highway Trust Fund last year. This is a critical fight and one that conservatives must win!

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