Economy & Budget

Real talk on the Export-Import Bank debate

Washington is abuzz with speeches and talking points from members of Congress on the Export-Import Bank whose charter is set to expire September 30.. Millions of dollars are funding an army of lobbyists and PR flacks to drum up support for the bank. On the other side are the American people, who are on the hook for the billions of dollars in subsidized loans the bank provides.

The controversy surrounding this previously little-known government program is the inevitable result of a federal government that has demonstrated over the past decade a stunning inability to spend taxpayers’ dollars with care. 

{mosads}The Ex-Im Bank was created by FDR as part of the New Deal to finance and support U.S. exports. This is a perfectly fine endeavor in the general sense as we want to keep American products competitive abroad, especially for small businesses. But the Ex-Im Bank is a different matter. It has grown into just another vehicle for crony capitalism. Although the Ex-Im website attempts to highlight the help small businesses have received, 75 percent of Ex-Im financing goes to multinational corporations like Boeing and General Electric, not small businesses. These juggernauts could finance their exports without the help of the U.S. government. 

Even in 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama cited the Ex-Im Bank as a government program that doesn’t work and “little more than a fund for corporate welfare.” Now we hear from the president that we must renew the program. The hypocrisy is regrettable, but sadly, something we have some to expect. Recently the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report on the Ex-Im Bank that, for three loans totaling a billion dollars, claimed bad record keeping and a disregard for transparency. Despite Obama’s pledges that he would have the most transparent administration in the history of our country, Ex-Im is another example of that failure. We cannot afford to be frivolous with our tax dollars – Americans deserve to know where and how they are being spent. 

The bank claims that is leveling the playing field for American companies, but only 2.2% of US exporters received assistance from Ex-Im. That means 97.8 percent of American companies who are competing internationally are doing so without Ex-Im assistance and doing it well. To say that the economy would be irrevocably hurt by not renewing the Ex-Im Bank’s charter is an insult to the American people’s intelligence. 

In their rhetorical demagoguery, Obama and the Democrats claim to be for “the little guy,” when in fact they are supporting big corporations, handing out freebies to those already dominating overseas markets, and undermining free-market principles.

Those in favor of the renewing Ex-Im’s charter point out that there are certain small businesses that would be hurt. While upwards of 75 percent of the financing goes to support big business, there are a few small businesses that rely on the support of Ex-Im. It is silly policy to keep a wasteful program because less than a quarter of the assistance it provides is actually helpful policy. Instead, let’s do away with the corporate welfare at Ex-Im and take real steps to wind this program down, supporting small businesses where we can. 

Congress must act. Action is the essential part of governing – rhetoric alone won’t get us there. Americans do not have the patience for elected official who say one thing and do another. This fall Congress must ensure that taxpayer dollars are no longer wasted on big business and crony capitalism. 

Innis is the executive director of is a division of Stop This Insanity, Inc. and is a national non-profit 501 (c)(4) organization created in 2009 for the education and advancement of the constitutional conservative values of the Tea Party Movement.

Tags Barack Obama

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video