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Opinion

Export-Import Bank's advantage: Unlike corporate welfare, free enterprise isn't a special interest

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Timothy P. Carney,Lobbying,Corporate Welfare,Export Import Bank

If you have a corporate-welfare bank that costs all taxpayers, combined, $2 billion a decade, and it provides almost all of its subsidies to a handful of politically connected companies, congressmen will hear a lot more lobbying in defense of the corporate-welfare bank than in opposition.

This dynamic is called "concentrated benefits and diffuse costs." And it's the reason corporate welfare thrives in Washington.

The Sunlight Foundation lays out the lobbying expenditures by the clients/supporters of Ex-Im and the opponents. The results are telling:

A new Sunlight Foundation analysis of the 20 organizations that have lobbied the most on the Export-Import Bank since 2008 shows that 19 of 20 support and benefit from the bank....

The corporate beneficiaries of the Ex-Im have all been extremely active in their support of the bank for years. Opponents have not....

Certainly, opponents of the Ex-Im bank appear to be gaining a wider audience. But they are up against the lobbying muscle of companies and industries that have been successfully lobbying in the support of the bank for years, and also have millions of dollars in sales at stake.

Largesse always has a lobby. Open competition often doesn't.

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