June has arrived, and with it, hopefully, the final days of the Export-Import Bank of the United States.
Seen as corporate welfare for Big Business, the Ex-Im Bank holds a $140 billion portfolio of taxpayer-backed loans that it distributes to politically-connected businesses. It primarily benefits some of the largest, most powerful corporations in the country. Assuming Congress doesn't reauthorize the bank's charter by June 30, it will stop issuing new loans and begin to wind down its operations.
But not everyone wants to see it end. Even as virtually the entire field of announced and would-be Republican presidential candidates have expressed their hope that the Bank's charter will sunset, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton testified before Congress in 2011 that she "would like to put Ex-Im Bank on steroids."
What might a steroid-goosed Ex-Im look like? According to the agency's ledger book for fiscal year 2012, a whopping 82 percent
of all loan guarantees subsidized the exports of one single company: Boeing. So perhaps Mrs. Clinton would like to see that figure climb to 100 percent.
Since its inception, the Ex-Im Bank has been plagued with corporate cronyism, misrepresentation of loan recipients and outright lies. Proponents of the bank have spread misinformation and falsehoods about what will happen if the bank is allowed to retire. They argue that it will lead to a loss of American jobs and hurt the competitiveness of our exports abroad. In doing so, proponents ignore reality: Only 2 percent of all U.S. exports are actually financed by the bank.
Additionally, the Government Accountability Office has found that the bank doesn't create jobs, but its role is to "shift production among sectors within the economy rather than raise the overall level of employment in the economy." In fact, Ex-Im does nothing but pick winners and losers, particularly "chosen" corporations like Boeing and General Electric, and it does so at the expense of other sectors of our economy. That's why it's known as "Boeing's Bank."
Supporters of the bank argue that it serves to provide small businesses with financing so that they are able to compete abroad. This is an absurd claim, when roughly two-thirds of the bank's loans go to 10 large corporations. According to a fact-check study of Ex-Im claims by American Transparency, since 2007 Boeing has received the largest share of exporter benefits — to the tune of $60 billion or one-third of all export activity.
Boeing, however, is not alone. The study also highlights how big businesses like Caterpillar Co., Schlumberger and Halliburton together have received $3.5 billion in Ex-Im financing since 2007. I think it's safe to assume that these four manufacturing giants can easily self-finance or get private sector loans on their own.
Some of the bank's defenders have even taken to arguing that 20 percent
of Ex-Im's authorizations support women and minority-owned businesses. That claim, like many others they have made with regard to Ex-Im, is laughable. The bank's own data shows that of the $154 billion in Ex-Im authorizations from 2007-14, only 1.02 percent went to women-owned businesses.
Boeing is already the world's largest aerospace company. It doesn't need taxpayer-backed financing to sell its wide-bodied aircraft abroad. Why then is it fighting so hard for the bank's survival? Perhaps because Ex-Im finances one out of every three of their airplane sales, flooding foreign airlines with Boeing planes purchased at a much lower rate than they cost domestically. Foreign airlines, then, gain an unfair advantage over domestic carriers.
According to the Airline Pilots Association of America, this co-dependent relationship has forced U.S. airlines to eliminate nearly 2 percent of the domestic airline workforce, or around 7,500 jobs.
Not surprisingly, Hillary Clinton has crisscrossed the country in recent weeks reiterating her support for the bank's reauthorization. She claims it's "embarrassing" that Republicans are calling for its wind-down and that the bank is necessary for our economy. It seems it's necessary, as well, for the Clinton Foundation.
As secretary of state, she admittedly gave a "shameless pitch" in 2009 for Boeing aircraft to the Russian Airline Rosavia, encouraging them to apply for financing from Ex-Im. Seven months later, in June 2010, Russia purchased 50 Boeing 737s. Two months after that, Boeing made its first-ever donation to the Clinton Foundation in the sum of $900,000. Since 2010, Boeing has contributed $1.1 million to the foundation. General Electric, the second largest beneficiary of bank assistance, is also a Clinton Foundation donor
Also unsurprisingly, Ex-Im Chairman Fred Hochberg himself is no stranger to "Clinton World." He's listed
in the foundation's $10,001-$25,000 donor range and previously served as a campaign bundler for Hillary's failed 2008 presidential campaign.
It is time to stop tipping the scales in favor of Big Business and corporate welfare. It is time to let this fundamentally broken agency come to its natural end.
Stephen DeMaura serves as president of Americans for Job Security.