Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) encourages his fellow Republicans to kill the Export-Import Bank in a USA Today editorial, in which he describes the bank as a “corrupt crony-capitalist fiasco” that does a good deal of deliberate harm to American companies:
The Export-Import Bank is big businesses’ big-government bank backed by U.S. taxpayers. It sends huge amounts of assistance toforeign corporations, buyers, and companies that are hostile to our economic and security interests, but can afford armies of lobbyists to access easy financing backed by American taxpayers.
Contrary to the values that keep America strong, safe and free, the Export-Import Bank has facilitated lending to governments in Congo and Sudan, countries with horrific human rights records. It has financed Chinese power plants and backedRussian billionaires buying luxury planes. And, it has provided lots and lots of financing to oil companies in Russia, Brazil, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia that compete directly with America’s energy companies.
Americans shouldn’t be forced to finance those who are actively working against them, as a basic matter of prudence. The Export-Import Bank operates outside of commonsense.
Whatever the Ex-Im Bank is supposed to do in theory, in practice it’s another disaster for managerial liberalism – perhaps not on the scale of ObamaCare or the Department of Veterans Affairs, but there are some construction equipment manufacturers in the upper Midwest who will tell you it’s plenty bad enough:
There’s nothing inherently wrong with big business — and President Obama is wrong to constantly demagogue them — but they don’t need special handouts from government. Especially when the government favors hurt other U.S. businesses and jeopardize American jobs.
For example, last year the Export-Import Bank was rebuked by a federal court for failing to fully consider that the support it sent to a state-owned Indian airline wasundercutting Delta, putting up to 7,500 American jobs at risk.
Similarly in 2013, Democrat Senators Amy Klobuchar, Al Franken, and Carl Levin sent a letter of concern to the Export-Import Bank’s Chairman, noting that the Bank’s subsidy of earth-moving equipment for an Australian mining company would hurt their American competitors in Michigan and Minnesota, ultimately leading to an estimated loss of over $1 billion in domestic sales of iron ore.
Things aren’t looking much better over in the accounting department:
A 2012 report by the Bank’s own Inspector General found that it lacks a systematic approach to managing its risk, with an alarming concentration of its risks in only a few industries, particularly the airline industry. According to the Bank’sown annual reports, last year it could justify less than a third of its activity as dedicated to countering foreign competition, the core of the Bank’s mission, and it could not account for its second-largest category of financial assistance, listing it as “unknown.”
What kind of bank doesn’t understand its risks, doesn’t follow its mission, and doesn’t know where its money is going?
And then you’ve got the good-old fashioned corruption we’ve grown so accustomed to in the Obama years, with “74 cases of documented fraud at the Export-Import Bank since 2009.” Cruz mentions one investigation that resulted in three dismissals and one dose of administrative leave, which the Wall Street Journal happens to have published an updated on just yesterday. One of the employees who got fired for “allegedly accepting cash payments in exchange for trying to help a Florida company obtain U.S. government financing to export construction equipment to Latin America” was summoned to testify before a House subcommittee, and wouldn’t you know it, he pulled a Lois Lerner and took the Fifth. This government doesn’t care for most of the Constitution or Bill of Rights, but they love that Fifth Amendment. I wonder if firing those employees will make it harder to get to the bottom of the corruption scandals. They’re each involved in a different one, according to the Journal.
Cruz finishes up by dissing the Export-Import Bank as “little more than a corporate welfare fund.” No, wait, sorry, that was Barack Obama in 2008 – Cruz was merely quoting him. Obama now thinks corporate welfare funds are super awesome, and wants to sweeten this one by a cool $20 billion. If that’s not enough to convince you he’s in love with corporate welfare, provided he’s the one doling it out, wait until you see what he does for his little partners in the health insurance industry.
Plenty of Republicans are behind the Ex-Im reauthorization too. That could prove inconvenient to the party’s campaign theme about battling crony capitalism – a banner that cannot be carried half-heartedly, especially since Republicans live in the guillotine shadow of “hypocrisy” accusations on matters such as these. Cruz draws a battle line with a strong dash of populist appeal: “Those siding with foreign corporations, lobbyists and crony politicians will be on one side. Those fighting for the values and interests of American workers will be on the other.”
That’s quite a bit different than the traditional Democrat-Republican or liberal-conservative split. Cruz’s prospective 2016 presidential rival, Senator Rand Paul, has been working to build cross-party appeal on opposition to the Surveillance State; perhaps Cruz can do it over the corpse of the Corporate Welfare State. Or we could slay both dragons and have a big old dragon barbecue. There’s plenty of political energy to be tapped in the resentment of the little guy for a system in which only the big and well-connected prosper… worse, in which the small are taxed and regulated to subsidize and protect the huge.