The Senate voted 82-17 today for Fred Hochberg to be reconfirmed as president of the U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank for a second term. Sadly, the threat of the so-called “nuclear option” has hijacked normal order in the Senate, clearing the path for a handful of Administration nominees not based on their merits following a rigorous debate, but under the cloud of political horse trading.
Proponents of Ex-Im, a government agency that provides taxpayer backed loans to private companies under the auspices of spurring trade, have clamored for Hochberg’s swift confirmation ahead of a July 20 deadline that would leave the bank’s board without a quorum and unable to continue distributing funds. However, as NTU Vice President Pete Sepp explained here, reconfirming Hochberg is a vote for more crony capitalism and business as usual at Ex-Im:
But as we have argued before, even from a pure policy perspective it would be a mistake for the full Senate to green-light Hochberg’s reconfirmation the way the Senate Banking Committee already has. For one, important warnings about Ex-Im’s risk management have been coming in a steady stream from Ex-Im’s Inspector General, the Government Accountability Office, and other entities. And that could mean trouble down the road for taxpayers.
Washington doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to playing with other peoples’ money and based on today’s vote it doesn’t look like that will change any time soon as loans continue to flow for Boeing, Caterpillar, and doomed green-energy schemes.
NTU has long called for an end to the Ex-Im Bank, an unnecessary entity that even candidate Obama in 2008 called “little more than a fund for corporate welfare.” The reconfirmation of Hochberg means that free-market advocates need to double-down on efforts to dismantle the bank ahead of the 2014 charter renewal battle or risk being on the hook for billions more.
Taxpayers should rush to support Congressman Amash and Senator Lee’s “Export-Import Bank Termination Act,” a bill that would phase out the bank over three years, allowing plenty of time for the prudent resolution of any outstanding obligations. You can read NTU’s full endorsement of the legislation here.