- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

After urging its reauthorization last year, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry now says he opposes the Export-Import Bank — an issue that has become a key litmus test for conservatives and the 2016 GOP field.

Mr. Perry acknowledged that since 2007, more than 1,200 Texas companies got help from the bank, which provides loans to companies in a bid to boost U.S. exports but has been attacked by conservatives as corporate welfare, in financing more than $24 billion in exports.

“As governor, I feared that because global competitors use institutions similar to the Ex-Im Bank to help their companies export goods to us, shutting down the Ex-Im Bank would mean unilaterally disarming in a fight that Europe and China intend to win,” he wrote in a piece for the Wall Street Journal. “That is why, in June 2014, I wrote a letter to Congress urging the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.”

The bank’s authority is scheduled to lapse at the end of June absent action from Congress, and Mr. Perry said he can’t get on board this time, saying he’s been “deeply disturbed” by recent reports of corruption and bribery at the institution.

Mr. Perry, who is laying the groundwork for another possible presidential run, called for cleaning up the tax code, reducing spending and making the country’s regulatory system more stable.

“The problem is this: We won’t have the moral credibility to reduce corporate taxes if we continue to subsidize corporate exports for corporations that already enjoy low effective tax rates, like General Electric and Boeing,” he wrote. “We won’t have the moral credibility to reform government programs that benefit future retirees if we don’t first reform government programs that benefit big businesses like Caterpillar. We won’t be able to give businesses more regulatory latitude if we continue to operate a government bank with an emerging record of corporate corruption.”

“And that is why the time has come to end the Export-Import Bank. We can’t let Ex-Im get in the way of reforms that would expand opportunity for all Americans,” he wrote.

Republican presidential candidates who have gone on record as opposing the bank include Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.

Others considering runs — including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Ohio Gov. John Kasich — have also spoken out against the bank.

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