Share

Opinion

Mike Lee on the Export-Import Bank: Let's make 2014 about corporate welfare

By |
Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Timothy P. Carney,2014 Elections,Export-Import Bank,Mike Lee

Sen. Harry Reid wants the 2014 elections to be about libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch.

But the Democrats might not have the populist cudgel to themselves. Sen. Mike Lee suggests he wants 2014 to be about the corporate welfare that forms the backbone of Obamanomics. Lee writes at National Review Online:

... a still-distrusted GOP first must end cronyism in our own ranks. The GOP has to close its branch of the Beltway Favor Bank and truly embrace a free-enterprise economy of, by, and for the people.

And through serendipitous timing, the fall of 2014 provides a good battleground on which conservatives can battle Obama's corporatist industrial policy:

One test will be this summer’s expiring congressional authorization of the federal Export-Import Bank. The Ex-Im Bank exists to dole out taxpayer-backed loan guarantees to help American exporters. Most of the benefits go to large corporations that are perfectly capable of securing private financing anywhere in the world.

In short, Congress allows the Ex-Im Bank to unnecessarily risk taxpayer money to subsidize well-connected private companies. President Obama himself called the program “little more than a fund for corporate welfare” back in 2008, when total taxpayer exposure to Ex-Im Bank guarantees was less than half its size today.

Whether the beneficiaries of particular Ex-Im Bank loan guarantees are respected, successful companies like Boeing or crony basket cases like Solyndra is irrelevant. Twisting policy to benefit any business at the expense of others is unfair and anti-growth.

Whether congressional Republicans say so — and do something about it — during the coming Ex-Im Bank debate will tell us a lot about what, and who, the party really stands for in 2014 and beyond.

I think Lee is dead-on here. I've written for a while -- especially since Mitt "47 percent" Romney's loss in 2012 -- that the GOP needs to become a party of the people. And this year, I think a fight over Ex-Im is the perfect chance -- especially since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling voted against reauthorizing Ex-Im in 2012.

View article comments Leave a comment