Export-Import Bank of the United States

ex-imSince 1934, the United States has had an Export-Import Bank. The bank is reauthorized every two years, usually with little fanfare. This year may be different, however.

Here is what the bank says about itself:

The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) is the official export credit agency of the United States. Ex-Im Bank’s mission is to assist in financing the export of U.S. goods and services to international markets.

Ex-Im Bank enables U.S. companies — large and small — to turn export opportunities into real sales that help to maintain and create U.S. jobs and contribute to a stronger national economy.

Ex-Im Bank does not compete with private sector lenders but provides export financing products that fill gaps in trade financing. We assume credit and country risks that the private sector is unable or unwilling to accept. We also help to level the playing field for U.S. exporters by matching the financing that other governments provide to their exporters.

Ex-Im Bank provides working capital guarantees (pre-export financing); export credit insurance; and loan guarantees and direct loans (buyer financing). No transaction is too large or too small. On average, more than 85% of our transactions directly benefit U.S. small businesses.

With more than 78 years of experience, Ex-Im Bank has supported more than $550 billion of U.S. exports, primarily to developing markets worldwide.

Wedge issues serve to demarcate political views. Immigration reform is an example. Democrats say justice requires legal status and a path to citizenship for undocumented persons. Republicans object to what they say is amnesty for criminals. The Export-Import Bank may be a wedge issue between Republican Factions.  Moderate Republicans normally favor anything that helps business, while libertarians believe government should be limited to doing as little as possible.

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) supports the Export-Import Bank. She writes:

The Ex-Im Bank supports and creates jobs for American workers by leveling the playing field for U.S.-based companies in global markets. In my district, which includes the Milwaukee area, the Bank supported the sale of $124 million of goods and services just in 2012. In the same year across the U.S., the Bank supported the export of $96 billion of goods and services to Mexico, India and Ireland. Over the last five years, the Bank has created or sustained 1.2 million jobs. A lot of good U.S. jobs depend on the economic activity generated by those exports.

Read more at the link below.

Libertarian Justin Amash (R-MI) has introduced H.R.2263, Export-Import Bank Termination Act, with three cosponsors, all Republicans. Senator Mike Lee introduced a companion bill in the Senate. Lee writes:

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced legislation to repeal the authority of the Export-Import Bank of the United States and create a defined process for the phasedown of the bank.  Congressman Justin Amash (R-MI) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“The Export-Import Bank is a source of corporate welfare that puts taxpayers at unnecessary risk,” said Senator Lee.  “Instead of subsidizing exports, which encourages an international corporate subsidy bidding war, we should be using multilateral agreements to eliminate business subsidies in all nations.  The Ex-Im Bank has outlived its usefulness and it’s time to end the Bank’s market distortion and political cronyism.”

“The Export-Import Bank has always been a bad idea and needs to be shut down,” Rep. Amash said.  “Export subsidies, like those provided by the Export-Import Bank, serve only to enrich well-connected special interests at the expense of the rest of the country.”

According to the bank, however:

Washington, DC – The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) today announced it has transferred more than $1 billion ($1056.9 million to be exact) in revenues to the U.S. Treasury’s General Fund for fiscal year 2013. This revenue, generated for U.S. taxpayers from fees and services, is what the Bank earned above its operating costs and loan loss reserves. 

In May, 2012, on speaking for the Republican Mainstreet Partnership (Rep. Tom Reed is a member), former Congressman Amo Houghton had this to say:

“… re-authorizing the Export-Import Bank not only creates jobs, it does so without adding the federal debt.

The bank’s charter needs to be reauthorized every two years.  Congress reauthorized the bank in 2012 over the objections of some tea party conservatives who argued that the bank distorts the global marketplace and that propping up U.S. exporters is an improper role for government. Reauthorization, with the support of business and labor interests, passed easily however.

The bank has been reauthorized dozens of times since 1934, so one wonders why conservatives, libertarians, and wackos would make a fuss this year. I believe they see it as a wedge issue within the GOP. By claiming that the bank is  an improper role for government, possibly inconsistent with the Tenth Amendment, they seek to inflame their base against RINOs.  Judging from the many messages of approval on Rep. Amash’s facebook page, it seems to be working.

© William Hungerford – February 2014





About whungerford

* Contributor at NewNY23rd.com where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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7 Responses to Export-Import Bank of the United States

  1. Anne says:

    It’s always instructive to cruise around on some of these politicians’ facebook pages and look at the comments. It’s as though they’re living in some parallel universe.


  2. Deb Meeker says:

    Governmental statistics appear to support the benefits of the Export-Import Bank. Here’s a map of companies actually served by it: http://www.exim.gov/customcf/congressionalmap/state_map.cfm?state=NY


  3. whungerford says:

    I don’t know if the bank is a good thing or not. I note that critics on the left object to what it does–the same things they find objectionable in TPP. Critics on the right don’t object to what it does, but hold that the government has no business doing it whatever it is.

    Amy Goodman writes: “President Obama … is ‘supporting skyrocketing export subsidies for dirty fossil fuels through the United States Export-Import Bank,’ with at least $10.2 billion in public financing for fossil-fuel projects in 2012 alone, dwarfing the $2.3 billion the State Department claims it has disbursed to developing countries to combat climate change.”



  4. Deb Meeker says:

    I may be confused, but the IM EX Bank has had proven success in facilitating US exports, whereas trade agreements NAFTA, TAFT have caused much more import to the US, than the other way around. I could also be incorrect about this too, but the IM Ex Bank doesn’t expect loans to require the change of law, nor the loss of sovereignty, from those it loans to?


  5. whungerford says:

    More opinion:

    The bank is supposed to support green projects, but finds it difficult to meet the challenge. At the same time some critics contend that mandated support for green projects detracts from the banks economic impact and should be eliminated.

    Click to access R41829.pdf

    Note that the above report is from 2012. It is likely that not much has changed since then.

    Normally, both Republicans and Democrats would support the bank, but this year, unwilling to do anything President Obama favors, Republicans might balk.


  6. Pingback: Export Import Bank, Part 2 | New NY 23rd

  7. Pingback: Tom Reed supports Export-Import Bank for #NY23 | New NY 23rd

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