Apologists for the Export-Import Bank will defend ad nauseam its brand of crony capitalism. What they can’t defend is Ex-Im’s abysmal transparency.
For weeks The Heritage Foundation has requested information on 48 Ex-Im transactions in fiscal year 2016 that exceeded $10 million. That’s the limit imposed on the bank’s deals because Ex-Im’s board of directors lacks a quorum.
What Heritage got, says Diane Katz, is a runaround.
“(W)ithout transaction details, neither Congress nor the public can determine whether the awards of $500 million, $200 million, $150 million and the like were proper,” writes Ms. Katz, a research fellow in regulatory policy at Heritage.
Ex-Im is a New Deal relic that uses taxpayer money to help foreign businesses purchase American products. Over the past decade it has authorized billions in taxpayer-backed financial support, the majority of which primarily benefited a small number of mega-corporations. And whereas U.S. exports totaled $2.2 trillion last year, Ex-Im supported just $5 billion (or 0.22 percent, according to Heritage).
As for Ex-Im’s overly hyped small-business role, that comes into serious doubt when just 20 percent or less of its total financing goes to small businesses, Katz points out.
Whether the beneficiaries are big businesses or small, if Ex-Im isn’t forthcoming about its publicly funded transactions, then lifting the cash limit on future deals shouldn’t be forthcoming either.
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