Business & Economy

OVERNIGHT FINANCE: The new face of Ex-Im?

WORTH REPEATING — Our favorite quote from the Senate’s “Great Conciliator” Howard Baker (R-Tenn.): “The most difficult thing in any negotiation, almost, is making sure that you strip it of the emotion and deal with the facts.” The former Senate Majority Leader passed away earlier today. He was 88.


Gone are the days when Export-Import Bank reauthorization was little more than a policy wonk war inside the Beltway. The Tea Party activated the grassroots on the issue in 2012, dubbing it “corporate welfare” and “cronyism” designed to help corporations like Boeing.

{mosads}Now business leaders are taking a page out of the Tea Party playbook, looking to activate a grassroots community of their own: Main Street USA. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Manufacturers Association are striking back against Heritage Action and Club for Growth by rallying hundreds of small businesses nationwide as the clock crunches down toward Ex-Im’s Sept. 30 reauthorization deadline.

They’re looking to make small business the face of Ex-Im (more “mom and pop” shops, less “Bank of Boeing”). That strategy shift is upping-the-ante in an already politically hostile battle between Tea Party and the establishment GOP, and it’s putting pressure on red-meat Republicans heading home for Fourth of July recess. 

— One senior GOP strategist, who opposes Ex-Im, writes OVERNIGHT FINANCE: “We are seeing a new ironic trend that I expect to see continue as other contentious business related issues come up. And that is the business community will need more than lobbyists in Washington they will need activists on Main Street who bombard their specific members of Congress.

“This issue could signal the first shot across the bow, where you see Congressional Republicans in DC become defenders of Main Street rather than glorified bean counters of Wall Street. The battle is moving from the congressional corridors of Washington to Main Street USA.”

“It is a ‘prisoners dilemma’ for some Congressional Republicans (Tea Party v. small business) which is why (while the Dems are near unanimous in support) some Republicans are touting reforms/compromise to the EX-IM charter. See, P. King (NY), J. Campbell (CA), Fincher (TN).” 

THIS IS OVERNIGHT FINANCE, where we could care less we lost to Germany. WE ADVANCED! GO USA! (But again, Landon Donovan would’ve provided the leadership to rally the troops.)

THANK YOU for sticking with us during a busy week and making OVERNIGHT part of your nightly read-through. How can I improve? Tweet: @kevcirilli;; and subscribe: click here.


SMART-TAKE: DISCHARGE PETITION FOR EX-IM? MATH DOESN’T ADD UP, as Vicki Needham and Mike Lillis write for the hometown paper: 

“House Democrats won’t be able to use a discharge petition to push through a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank before its charter expires. With only 27 legislative days remaining before the bank’s authority lapses, a discharge petition wouldn’t be ‘ripe’ in time to renew it before the Oct. 1 deadline…

“Discharge petitions take 30 legislative days to become valid. That means that the Democrats’ Ex-Im bank bill, introduced Wednesday, won’t be ripe until Nov. 12… A discharge petition could come into play if lawmakers fail to move a reauthorization by the deadline.”

QUOTABLE, President Obama said he won’t run for a third-term during a town hall meeting earlier in Minnesota: “Not only the Constitution bars it, but Michelle bars it — and you can’t change Michelle’s mind.”

BREAKING: LEW’S BILLION DOLLAR BET TO BOOST AFFORDABLE HOUSING. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced a bombshell an hour ago, and MNI’s chief Washington correspondent Denny Gulino reports: “[Lew] announced a new Treasury-HUD financing program to increase low-income housing construction by the 33 regional housing finance agencies whose borrowing has dropped off this year.

“By using Treasury’s Federal Financing Bank as guarantor, officials hope to increase such borrowing to build affordable units to as much $1 billion, topping the record $780 million annual total. Last year such borrowing fell to less than $400 million nationwide as tax-exempt bonds were underpriced by taxable bonds, outside the reach of the local housing finance agencies.”

So that’ll go over real well with everybody, right? (Sarcasm.)

— PUSHBACK STARTS… hot off the presses from center-right The American Action Forum’s housing wonk Andy Winkler: “Instead of finding ways to circumvent a housing regulatory regime that has yet to be fully implemented, administration officials should more forcefully push to build a safer housing finance for the future that limits taxpayer exposure and has clear rules of the road moving forward … (unlike the new emphasis at FHFA on preserving the current system).”

WHY FINSERV WORLD CARES ABOUT TODAY’S SCOTUS RULING? CFPB. That’s right. The Supreme Court earlier today ruled UNANIMOUSLY (emphasis mine) that President Obama acted unconstitutionally when he appointed officials to the National Labor Relations Board when the Senate was convening in pro forma sessions every three days. 

Under law, the president can only make recess appointments during breaks of 10 days or longer, so lawmakers block appointments by having “pro forma sessions” every three days where no business is conducted and no lawmakers are required to be there.

Very wonky, so why should you care?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, that’s why. SCOTUS’ ruling invalidates any actions that were taken for those appointed during the now unconstitutional appointment process, including CFPB Director Richard Cordray

As our Pete Schroeder reports: “One of the first steps Cordray took after being formally confirmed by the Senate and officially sworn in to the job was to reaffirm and re-ratify all actions he took during his recess appointment.”

But House Financial Services Committee Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) signaled today that he wasn’t so sure about Cordray’s defense. Republicans are fierce critics of CFPB, arguing it’s a “rogue regulator,” and a legal battle over his actions could further add to that characterization. Pete has more on that here:

BAKER PASSES AT 88. The Hill’s Cristina Marcos: “Former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker (R-Tenn.) has died at the age of 88. Baker served as majority leader from 1981 to 1985, and was later a chief of staff to President Reagan. 

“He also played a memorable role in the Watergate trial, asking ‘what did the president know and when did he know it?’ as the ranking Republican on the investigative committee… Baker was called the ‘Great Conciliator’ because of his ability to strike compromises. He served as U.S. ambassador to Japan under former President George W. Bush.”

CONNECT WITH THE HILL’s FINANCE TEAM – Write us with tips, suggestions;

–Follow us on Twitter: @VickofTheHill; @PeteSchroeder; @BernieBecker3; and @kevcirilli.

Tags Jack Lew Recess appointment Richard Cordray United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

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