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NTU Urges All Senators to Vote No on the Export-Import Bank

by Nan Swift / /

NTU urges all Senators to vote “NO” on the Kirk amendment to H.R. 22, the legislative vehicle for the Highway Trust Fund legislation. This amendment would reauthorize the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank, thereby perpetuating a program with dubious benefits and serious liabilities for taxpayers. Moreover, H.R. 22 is an inappropriate legislative vehicle for consideration of a matter of finance.

Though the program professes to support small businesses, a majority of Ex-Im financing uses taxpayer dollars to back overseas sales for large, profitable companies like Boeing, John Deere, Caterpillar, Dell, and GE – at times on projects that directly compete with domestic enterprises, such as natural gas and iron ore mines. Ex-Im helps to enable merely a small fraction of our total exports, which reached $2.35 trillion last year – setting a record for the fifth year in a row. And major clients of the bank have admitted their productivity would be unaffected should Ex-Im financing go away. Clearly, many businesses are having plenty of success exporting without taxpayer support.

Any private funding gaps that may exist argue for the bank’s elimination, not its continuance. If private entities are unwilling to risk their own funds, this should serve as a clear warning sign that taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be exposed either. The government should be seeking to reduce, not continue, its role in underwriting private business activities. Like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Ex-Im exposes taxpayers to considerable risk and substantially distorts markets. When government picks winners, the real losers are the American people as witnessed by debacles like Solyndra, a failed company that received Ex-Im funding.

Ex-Im has proved unable or unwilling to implement reforms in the past, and recent scandals only emphasize the fact that the bank’s activities are incompatible with good governance.

Free-market conservatives aren’t the only ones calling for an end to the Ex-Im Bank. In the past, our annual “Toward Common Ground” report, undertaken with the left-of-center U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG), has advocated for the elimination of the Ex-Im Bank. While NTU and U.S. PIRG differ on the appropriate size and scope of the federal government, we were united in our belief that the bank is an anachronistic corporate welfare program that should be ended immediately.

Roll call votes on an Ex-Im amendment to H.R. 22 will be significantly weighted in NTU’s annual Rating of Congress and a “NO” vote will be considered the pro-taxpayer position.

If you have any questions, please contact NTU Federal Affairs Manager Nan Swift at (703) 683-5700