Policy: Economy

At Export-Import Bank hearing: GOP dings big business; Dems exalt corporate America

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Congress,Timothy P. Carney,Economy,Corporate Welfare,Jeb Hensarling,Export Import Bank

Republican Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling opened today's hearing on the Export-Import Bank by excoriating corporate welfare and calling out big businesses by name in something of a populist speech:

Who benefits? Overwhelmingly — and indisputably — it’s some of the largest, richest, most politically-connected corporations in the world — like Boeing, General Electric, Bechtel and Caterpillar. ...

And big Wall Street banks apparently benefit as well. As reported in the press recently, one former JP Morgan and Citigroup banker said of Ex-Im’s credit guarantees, “it’s free money.”

So if you’re a politically-connected bank or company that benefits from Ex-Im, no doubt you would like it to continue. After all, it’s a sweetheart deal for you. Taxpayers shoulder the risk and you get the reward.

Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., also criticized Ex-Im as the "Big Business Administration," explicitly naming General Electric and Caterpillar.

On the other side of the aisle, Democrats were singing hosannas to corporate America.

Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., warned darkly that if Ex-Im dies, we might "wake up in 20 years" in a world with no Boeing.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., pointed to the Chamber-of-Commerce-led lobbying effort to save Ex-Im and declared, "865 businesses and associations can't be wrong!"

This is a real realignment in American politics. Democrats are becoming explicitly corporatist, while Republicans are slowly shedding that garb.

Related: Liberal David Dayen at Salon writes, "Nowadays, Democrats are defending Ex-Im, and the right is calling it 'corporate welfare.' It wasn't always that way."

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