Fools like me who believed that President Trump would “drain the swamp” in Washington have been enduring one disappointment after another. For the latest, he has exerted political pressure so the swampiest agency in town, the Export-Import Bank, can be restored to its full potential.
For nearly four years the Senate leadership blocked confirmation votes to fill the vacancies on Ex-Im’s board, depriving it of the quorum needed to authorize deals over $10 million. Sadly, Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell and with the help of nearly all Democrats, are expected to end their blockage this week by confirming Kimberly Reed as the head of the bank and two other nominees to the board.
As a candidate Mr. Trump was anti-Ex-Im. Then as president he started calling the bank, which provides different forms of financing to encourage American exports, “a very good thing.” Supporters claim that money funneled through Ex-Im expands exports and helps small businesses. Without it, they say, America’s global “competitiveness” would be dealt a blow.
Critics like myself say that Ex-Im’s handouts amount to corporate welfare — often for large companies like General Electric and Caterpillar — that does not meaningfully increase overall exports. This agency inflates the profits of the politically connected on the taxpayer’s dime. It also artificially grants an edge to foreign companies against which unsubsidized American businesses have to compete.