President Barack Obama’s views on the Export-Import Bank have evolved considerably during his time as president, taking him from a populist critic of the bank to one of its biggest supporters.
During the 2008 presidential election, candidate Obama said Ex-Im “has become little more than a fund for corporate welfare,” but today, President Obama and his subordinates describe the bank as “essential,” Connor Lynch observes in a blog post for Americans for Tax Reform.
Ex-Im is a New Deal-era government agency that provides financing assistance to American exporters. Many conservative lawmakers and interest groups see the bank as a form of corporate welfare, and hope to prevent Congress from extending the Ex-Im’s charter, which would prevent the bank from making any new loans, though it would still be able to service its existing commitments.
Most Democrats, including Obama, counter that Ex-Im supports jobs and protects American business from unequal competition with foreign companies whose governments offer their own export subsidies, but it increasingly appears that the bank will not be reauthorized before its current charter expires on June 30.
As the bank’s critics have become more numerous and vocal, Lynch claims, “the Obama Administration has gone all in to ensure the bank’s charter is renewed.”
National Security Adviser Susan Rice, for instance, gave an address at the bank’s 2015 annual conference in which she asserted that, “when President Obama meets with foreign leaders, Ex-Im is an important part of our diplomacy,” and called on Congress “to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank with a long-term mandate to continue its vital work.”
Obama himself said in a recent interview that, “Other than, maybe, the CEO of Boeing, I don’t know anyone who’s done more to sell Boeing planes around the world than me,” points out Stephen DeMaura, president of Americans for Job Security, in an op-ed for The Blaze.
Boeing is the top beneficiary of Ex-Im financing, collecting 40 percent of the bank’s total authorizations in 2014. Boeing relies on the bank for roughly a quarter of its airplane sales, though company officials have made statements recently indicating that they would be able to find alternative lending sources if Ex-Im were to close.
DeMaura speculates that Obama’s change of heart on Ex-Im may have something to do with the “revolving door between bank officials and Boeing,” which enhances the aircraft manufacturer’s political influence.
“In fact, the Ex-Im bank is a huge part of the Democratic political machine,” Lynch claims, pointing out that Bill Clinton remarked at one of the bank’s recent conferences that the room was “full of people who once worked for me.”
Moreover, Ex-Im Chairman Fred Hochberg has been a major fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, who has said that she would put Ex-Im “on steroids” if she were president.
Both writers agree that President Obama should take a lesson from candidate Obama and end his support for “picking winners and losers” in the marketplace.
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