Rep. Jeb Hensarling (shown at right in photo, R-Texas) is the chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services, the committee that decides whether the Export-Import Bank’s charter will expire on September 30. He has already decided to vote no and is working with his committee to make sure the bank’s death is certain.
Along the way he is making very public just how he feels about the bank. He wrote a scathing letter to two of the bank’s largest supporters, Boeing and the National Association of Manufacturers, complaining about their efforts to lobby members of the House to keep the bank, and its many benefits to Boeing, General Electric, Bechtel, and Caterpillar flowing. Keeping the bank also benefits JP Morgan Chase and Citibank, who make essentially risk-free loans while charging the bank fees for doing so. Wrote Hensarling to the big corporations, "I respect your constitutional right to petition your government for redress of grievances. I just wish you had used the occasion to petition for opportunity instead of special privilege."
In a nutshell, Hensarling has exposed the chasm between those seeking to limit government to its constitutional bounds and those seeking to use government to further their own interests. The Export-Import Bank was established by an Executive Order in 1934 and was only later ratified as legitimate by Congress in 1945, allowing it to be an independent agency of the Executive branch of government.
Its mission is to provide financing for commercial transactions that require financing where the private sector is either unable or unwilling to provide it. When the risk is too high, the Ex-Im bank steps in and provides it, using the American taxpayer (always the American taxpayer) as the ultimate backstop to default.
It’s supposed to provide financing primarily for small businesses, the generator of most new jobs in the economy. Thus its mission is sold on that basis: American jobs are being created, thanks to the bank, that otherwise wouldn’t be. The sales promo goes on to say that there is no risk to the taxpayer as the default rate is so low that it is covered by the fees it charges to the banks for putting those otherwise non-doable deals together.
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Photo: AP Images