- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 19, 2012

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Donald Lambro’s commentary (“Reorganizing deck chairs on U.S. Titanic,” Wednesday) on President Obama’s plan to consolidate trade and business functions of several agencies charges that “the Export-Import Bank and OPIC represent corporate welfare at its worst, handing out loans and other benefits to rich Fortune 500 companies.” He is wrong on two counts.

First, he fails to recognize that more than 85 percent of Ex-Im Bank’s transactions directly benefit small businesses, not “rich Fortune 500 companies.” Last fiscal year, in fact, Ex-Im direct, small-business financing exceeded $6 billion, an all-time record. In addition, the large customers whose exports are supported by Ex-Im buy from thousands of small-business suppliers around the United States.

Second, far from being “corporate welfare,” the self-sustaining Ex-Im Bank operates at no cost to the taxpayer - it has generated almost $2 billion for taxpayers in the past five years, $400 million in fiscal 2011 alone.

Taxpayers profit because the export financing that Ex-Im provides is entirely paid for by the companies that benefit from it. Ex-Im’s mission is to help sustain and create American jobs by financing exports of U.S. goods and services. Last year’s record Ex-Im Bank financing supported an estimated $41 billion in U.S. export sales and approximately 290,000 American jobs in communities across the country.

Ex-Im financing helps level the playing field for U.S. companies so they can compete on the basis of quality, innovation and customer service instead of losing sales to foreign competitors receiving preferential financing terms.

As a former businessman and someone who talks to business leaders every day, I support the president’s reorganization plan because it will help U.S. exporters more effectively compete and more efficiently deliver those services.

In some ways we have already begun the process. One year ago, we launched “Global Access for Small Business,” which combines nationwide forums - 32 last year alone - with new products aimed at increasing access to financing for small business exporters and their customers. Global Access events include representatives of both the Small Business Administration and the Commerce Department.

Rather than being corporate welfare, Ex-Im Bank helps American businesses compete with foreign companies at no cost to taxpayers, generating revenue and supporting hundreds of thousands of American jobs that would otherwise be exported overseas.

FRED P. HOCHBERG

Chairman and president

Export-Import Bank of the United States

Washington

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