This July, an 80-year-old corporate welfare program known as the U.S. Export-Import Bank was allowed to expire for the first time since its inception. Created by FDR as part of his New Deal, the bank offers taxpayer-backed loan guarantees to companies unable to secure independent financing – in other words, loans too risky for private investors to be willing to finance.
It’s a ridiculous and obsolete program, and while its cost is small in the grand scheme of government spending – $2 billion over years – the difficulty with which it was finally defunded shows the extreme disproportionate influence of special interests in Washington. When conservatives finally succeeded in stopping the Bank’s funding, it was regarded as a huge victory for the opponents of corporate cronyism, proof of the concept that we can stop, or at least roll back, the leviathan if we could only muster the political will.
It is a victory that has proven to be short-lived, however. A bill to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank had been languishing in committee, when a group of Democrats and Republicans, made crazy by the thought of not being able to provide taxpayer handouts to the giant companies in their districts, filed a discharge petition to force the bill onto the House floor for a vote. Such petitions usually fail, since they require a majority of the Congress to sign on, agreeing to circumvent the process by which bills usually arrive at the floor. This time was different. Such is the desire by politicians to feed their corporate masters at our expense, that the petition garnered the necessary signatures and the bill will soon enjoy a floor vote, where it is all but certain to pass.
With the looming departure of John Boehner, who has always supported the Ex-Im Bank, the Congress is trying to get all its establishment dirty laundry out of the way in a hurry, for fear that someone with actual principles might step up to take the outgoing Speaker’s place. It’s disgusting that Republicans would so blatantly ignore the message sent by voters, and use procedural tricks – akin to the blackest variety of necromancy – to bring this entirely corrupt program back from the dead.
It’s cynical in the extreme for politicians to try to sneak this corporate handout past the voters, and anyone who supports the reauthorization should be ashamed of themselves. FreedomWorks has preemptively issued a Key Vote NO on any bill to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank, and will count those votes on our legislative scorecard.