Conservatives call for expiration of the Export Import Bank

Tired of seeing their elected officials squander their tax dollars, Americans are fighting back. The Export Import Bank will expire at the end of September, and this year there is an increasing amount of opposition at the grassroots level to renewing its charter.  Since Ex-Im’s creation in 1934, this relatively unknown yet powerful government-backed institution has given out hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer-subsidized loans to some of the largest corporations in the world. While well-connected companies are lobbying Congress to reauthorize the Export Import Bank, there is growing opposition off of Capitol Hill.

This past month, Americans for Prosperity led a diverse coalition of 30 organizations, representing millions of Americans, in calling on Congress to oppose reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank. These organizations vary in size and scope, but they have a shared interest of ending corporate welfare and cronyism for big business. Their message to Congress: do nothing. With little if any significant legislation expected to be offered this summer, elected officials would be smart to listen to their constituents who are tired of seeing Congress advance the interest of wealthy multinational companies at their expense.

ADVERTISEMENT
Coalition partners point out this bank plays favorites, costs jobs and sought a bailout in the eighties. The bank also distorts the market in that if these loans are as low risk as the bank claims, then nothing should stop these companies from getting private sector loans. Companies that receive loan guarantees from the bank include huge multi-national corporations that can afford to play the Beltway lobbying game. Putting taxpayers on the hook prompts only more questions about the banks shady practices. The Heritage Foundation recently highlighted the bank’s questionable claim that it supports jobs pointing out that Ex-Im simply takes national data rather than counting jobs related to projects and without specifying if they are full-time, part-time, or seasonal.  

In the bank’s request for authorization, the bank is asking for even more. It proposed increasing its taxpayer exposure cap from $20 million to $45 million, and it also proposed to increase the authorization period from 2 years to 5 years. The Export Import Bank recently held their annual conference in Washington in order to drum up support for the upcoming reauthorization battle. In a column for the Washington Examiner, Tim Carney quoted a former banker telling him “it’s free money,” highlighting the carefree attitude these corporations have with taxpayer money.

Thankfully, some lawmakers on Capitol Hill are taking notice. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) recently said, “I have always believed that re-authorizing the Export Import Bank is a bad idea.” He continued, “[w]hat may be most disturbing is the Bank’s response to concerns of mismanagement and increase taxpayer risk isn’t to address those concerns-it’s to ask for even greater authority.” Members would be wise to follow Chairman Hensarling’s leadership on this issue.

This year, Congress should allow the Export Import Bank’s antiquated and outdated charter to expire as scheduled, not extend or expand it. Millions of citizens and dozens of organizations across the country are calling on them to do so.  

Fletcher is a policy analyst for Americans for Prosperity, a conservative advocacy organization.