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A hint of free-market populism: Hensarling on Boeing’s Bank

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Business,Timothy P. Carney,Export-Import Bank,Boeing,Jeb Hensarling

The Export-Import Bank is a government agency that uses taxpayer-backed financing to subsidize U.S. exports — mostly Boeing jets. President Obama, while he was a candidate, called it “little more than a fund for corporate welfare.” Rep. Justin Amash and Sen. Mike Lee have introduced bills to wind the agency down.

Today at a Financial Services subcommittee hearing on Ex-Im, full-committee chairman Jeb Hensarling used his opening statement to rail against the agency. Hensarling denounced the “market distorting power of the Export-Import Bank,” and endorsed Obama’s “corporate-welfare” line. “The Bank picks winners and losers in our economy,” he said.

The title of Hensarling’s press release about his speech reads “Chairman Hensarling: Time to EXIT the EXIM.” But his actual speech has a slightly softer punchline [emphasis mine]:

By inserting political considerations into the market, the Bank’s activities do expose taxpayers to risks while producing a less efficient economy than would otherwise occur in a free market without the Bank’s interference.

I have long believed that many taxpayers feel that it is indeed time to EXIT the EXIM.

This is a step in the right direction, and in keeping with Hensarling’s approach to Wall Street: throwing barbs at bailouts and defending market rather than businesses, but not quite sticking in the knife.

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