Ryan slams Ex-Im Bank as 'crony capitalism'

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Wednesday derided the Export-Import Bank as “crony capitalism” that favors gigantic corporations over small businesses.

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Ryan, speaking at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast, didn’t rule out backing a reauthorization of the bank, which is set to expire at the end of September.

But the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential nominee also made clear that he thought the bank illustrated the worst of how Washington operates: “big government and big business joining in common cause to hand out preferences.”

“Could the thing be reformed? Of course. Would that be better than the status quo? Yes,” Ryan said. “But at the end of the day I really do believe there are so many more things we should be dedicating taxpayer resources to.”

Ryan made the comments as a group of House Republicans — including prominent GOP lawmakers like incoming Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas) — have said Congress should forgo another reauthorization.

Democratic supporters of the bank, which loans to corporate titans like Boeing, have tried to use the opposition from conservatives to bolster their own support among the traditionally Republican business community.

Ryan said that instead of reauthorizing a bank devoted to aiding the largest companies, Republicans should back policies that are pro-markets, even if they’re not pro-business.

The better path for Congress, he added, would be to implement a host of policies — like better regulatory, tax and tort systems — that would help smaller businesses succeed.

“To me it’s sort of the economic equivalent of giving the keys to the castle to the king so he can pull the drawbridge up behind him,” Ryan said. “Let’s keep the drawbridge down, and bring people into the economy.”