“There are two types of businesses: successful ones that don’t need financial assistance from the government, and unsuccessful ones that don’t deserve it.”
This line from Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint in a recent column perfectly underscores the reason for principled opposition to the Export-Import Bank by conservatives.
Unfortunately, a major entity in the business world with whom conservatives often find common political ground is spearheading the efforts to renew the Ex-Im Bank’s charter before it expires on June 30. Last week, the United States Chamber of Commerce announced a $1 million advertising campaign pushing for Congressional action that would allow the “symbol of crony capitalism” to continue financing loans to foreign companies purchasing American products. Ironically, then candidate Obama was also against it before he was for it, calling the Ex-Im Bank “little more than a fund for corporate welfare.”
Of the $20.5 billion in export financing provided by the Ex-Im Bank last year, Boeing’s deals accounted for 75% of the funding. Not surprisingly, Boeing was listed as the Gateway Sponsor of the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Annual Aviation Summit this past March. Additionally, Boeing has spent over $69 million lobbying for the Ex-Im Bank and other interests since 2012. The real surprise for conservatives, and even pro business moderates, should be that a $95 billion company would need so much assistance in the first place.
Another beneficiary of Ex-Im Bank’s financing is General Electric, which received over $2.6 Billion in assistance during FY 2013. GE’s executives have hit the campaign with thinly veiled threats to outsource jobs if the Bank’s charter is not renewed. However, GE’s partnership with a different advocacy group raises huge flags on the political relationships between big business and the Ex-Im Bank.
GE has a history of supporting the Center for American Progress, the liberal advocacy organization that’s also been called “Hillary’s Think Tank”. In 2011, CAP helped lobby for a $4 Billion loan package from the Department of Energy for green energy company First Solar. At the same time, the Ex-Im Bank provided $455 million for First Solar to build plants in Canada.
Conservatives across the country are right to be concerned with how winners and losers are picked by the federal government. It seems that the companies benefitting from, and promoting, the Ex-Im Bank have the resources to lobby for those benefits in the first place. Ventures like Solyndra have shown exactly why the practice of funding projects for the politically connected is risky and is not the free market capitalism that conservatives believe in. Conservatives should be calling this corporate cronyism, or ‘corporate welfare’, out for what it is, just like President Obama did in 2008.
Chris Walker is the Executive Director of 2nd Vote, a conservative shopper app. To find out more, download the free app or visit 2ndVote.com.