"B-" Congressmen for Ex-Im Subsidies

30 House Republicans have made waves in the ongoing saga of the odious Export-Import Bank by writing a letter to House Leadership urging its reauthorization. The Ex-Im Bank is almost universally opposed by conservatives and true supporters of free trade because it subsidizes exports on the backs of the American taxpayer, but the signers of the letter call themselves conservatives and much of the coverage of it has asserted the same. So, how conservative are the signers of this letter?

Of the 30 signers of the letter, their average score on NTU's 2011 Rating of Congress was a whopping 72.8%. Only two received Taxpayers' Friend Awards, meaning they scored higher than 85% for an A grade: John Campbell (R-CA) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY). Only five scored higher than 80%, while 13 scored somewhere in the 70s, and 12 scored in the 60s. In short, many of the signers have middling fiscal records.

The letter is full of the same pablum we've been hearing from the Chamber of Commerce and other supporters of subsidies for big business. Perhaps my favorite line is when the Members say, "it seems counterproductive to unilaterally disengage," meaning that it would be unwise for us to wind down our export subsidies while foreign countries like China maintain or expand theirs. This sort of a statement has intuitive appeal for some, but it's simply foolish.

China's export subsidies are an economic distortion that comes at the cost of their taxpayers and citizens and accrues to the BENEFIT of American taxpayers and citizens (and others that import things made in China). If the Chinese government insists on taxing its citizens in order to make the products they sell to us cheaper to purchase, the correct response to that is not to turn around and tax OUR citizens to make the products we sell abroad cheaper. The correct response is to say, "Thank you for the free money" (in the form of cheaper products for us) and shut down our damaging export and tariff programs.

Most conservatives understand that message. Apparently at least 30 of them need convincing.