POLITICS

Carney: GOP could make hay by opposing Ex-Im Bank

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President Obama and the Senate Democratic leadership these days are standing with the Chamber of Commerce to defend corporate welfare from a conservative attack.

The Senate, heeding White House guidance, was poised at press time to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, a federal agency that subsidizes major banks and U.S. exporters like Boeing and General Electric, and also increase the amount of taxpayer money the bank can put at risk. This clearly undermines Obama's rhetoric about battling the special interests, not to mention his State of the Union pledge of "no more handouts," but it also gives Republicans a potential political opening.

Ex-Im, which issues taxpayer-backed loans and loan guarantees to banks and foreign buyers in order to help U.S. exporters, will expire at the end of May if Congress does not reauthorize it before then. The agency is already butting up against the $100 billion legal limit on outstanding financing. Ex-Im reauthorizations typically pass with healthy bipartisan support. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has decided to use a GOP jobs bill as a vehicle to reauthorize Ex-Im and increase its loan limit.

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