Political Battle Over Export Bank Heats Up
Lawmakers at a recent House hearing on the future of the Export-Import Bank were given an extra piece of reading material: a personalized index card laying out exactly which companies in their districts benefit from the financing agency and how many people they employ.
The cards, which supporters of the bank plan to give to every member of Congress in coming weeks, are part of a lobbying push by corporations such as Boeing Co. and General Electric Co., and business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers. Their goal is to combat the most serious threat yet to the survival of the agency, which is under assault by new House leadership and conservative groups that say it amounts to corporate welfare.
What does this say about us? As near as I can tell, this is the most important domestic political battle in the country right now. That's right: reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank. Can you think of anything more trivial? This is a government agency that costs taxpayers nothing—in fact, it's recorded a profit over the past decade—and, at worst, will cost us no more than a tiny amount in the future. On the flip side, although reliable figures are hard to come by, its impact on our export business is probably pretty minuscule.
So it costs nothing and has a tiny impact on the economy. And that's what we're fighting over this month. Why? Because there's not much point in fighting over anything that's actually important. Welcome to America in 2014.