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Opinion

Export-Import Bank officials, while campaigning to save export subsidies, bust through travel budget

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Travel,Timothy P. Carney,Spending,Subsidies,Export Import Bank

Being the chief export subsidizer in the country carries lots of responsibilities including, apparently, barnstorming the country to try and rally the businesses you subsidize to push lawmakers to keep the subsidies flowing. This ain't cheap.

Here's an Export-Import Bank press release from last week:

Officials from the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. (Ex-Im Bank) will hold a series of forums, discussions, and small-business stops to increase awareness among American small businesses of how the Export-Import Bank can help them boost their exports abroad, while creating jobs here at home. ...

This is the sort of thing Ex-Im has been doing for a while. Forums that have the dual purpose of encouraging businesses to pursue Ex-Im subsidies, and grass-roots lobbying for renewal of Ex-Im's charter.

Again, this isn't cheap. The Hill's Kevin Cirilli reports today:

Officials with the Export-Import Bank have exceeded their travel budget over the last three years by $3 million, according to disclosures filed to the House Financial Services Committee and obtained by The Hill.

In fiscal 2012, Ex-Im budgeted $1.7 for travel expenses but spent $2.7 million. In fiscal 2013, Ex-Im budgeted $1.2 million but spent $2.2 million. And in this fiscal year, Ex-Im budgeted $1.3 million but expects its end-of-year spending to total $2.3 million.

Much of the recent travel appears designed to build public support for the bank, which is in danger of seeing its charter lapse.

Chairman Fred Hochberg says most of the travel by Ex-Im officials is conducting due diligence. And to be fair, the alternative to flying on the taxpayer's dime appears to be flying on the dime of the company seeking a subsidy.

At least those U.S. carriers, by carting Ex-Im officials around the country, are getting back some of the money that they lose when Ex-Im subsidizes their foreign competitors!

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