- - Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tomorrow will be the first day since 1934 that an obscure federal agency will no longer be able to risk Americans’ tax dollars to subsidize big business. The formerly obscure Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank  will officially expire at midnight after months of hearings, debates and scandals brought to light. Despite this win for taxpayers bank supporters are already working on a way to revive this corrupt Washington entity.

The Ex-Im expiration is finally a bit good news for American families and small businesses who since the days of the Great Depression have had their tax dollars spent on political favoritism and corruption. Blatant examples such as bank employees taking kickbacks for loans or former Congressman William Jefferson found with $90,000 of cash found in his freezer along with other questionable activities finally became too much for ever Washington to sell to the American people.

Despite the culture of corruption at the bank, Ex-Im’s supporters have spent tens of millions of dollars in lobbying activity since the beginning of the year to convince Congress to extend their handout. Despite the banks lapse the supporters have not given up the fight to resurrect the bank. Proponents have predictably turned to “the sky is falling!” claim in an effort to frighten lawmakers to attach bank reauthorization to “must pass” piece of legislation.

Congress should ignore this Chicken Little tactic. Ex-Im’s expiration does not mean that the agency suddenly disappears overnight; in fact the bank will remain operating for years to come. All outstanding financing will continue uninterrupted until the bank winds down all of it portfolio. Ex-Im’s beneficiaries will continue to operate profitably, something they have already admitted.

The market for American will similarly remain strong in an economy without the Ex-Im Bank. Despite the hyperbole of the banks importance the reality is that 98 percent of American exports happen without a subsidy from the Ex-Im Bank. The bank’s expiration is an opportunity for private financiers to fill in for the remaining 2 percent of exporters that have been receiving Ex-Im financing. Beginning today, the vast majority of businesses that export without the help of Ex-Im will now be on a level playing field.



Despite the undeniable fact that the sky will not fall with the banks expiration, many in Congress are already plotting to resurrect Ex-Im in a backroom deal. The likely vehicle for their Ex-Im earmark will be the upcoming transportation package as it remains the only “must pass” piece of legislation. Reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank and authorizing federal funding for transportation have absolutely nothing to do with one another and this potential deal epitomizes the worst of the congressional process.

Congressional leaders should reject efforts side-step normal committee processes in order to extend the life of this crony bank. House Financial Services Committee Chair Jeb Hensarling and Senate Banking Committee Chair Richard Shelby have both held recent hearings on the issue and decided against advancing Ex-Im reauthorization legislation.

Reauthorizing Ex-Im would be a step backwards at the time when our economy needs to move forward. Rather than relying on failed New Deal policies America should look to eliminate costly mandates and red tape to encourage job growth and help raise wages of hardworking Americans. It’s time to reject Washington’s culture of corruption and cronyism and embrace hardworking Americans’ everywhere not just those who can afford to lobby Washington.

Christine Harbin Hanson is deputy director of federal affairs for Americans for Prosperity.

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