In 2012, the Bank approved more than $11 billion in below market financing of American aircraft to more than 20 different countries leaving U.S. carriers on the sidelines. This has cost the U.S. airline industry dearly resulting in the loss of as much as $684 million and up to 7,500 jobs according to some estimates.
Not only has the Export-Import Bank imposed undue burdens onto American businesses, but its track record has also been riddled with scandals that give it a stench of negligence. Under Hochberg’s tenure, the Bank has expanded beyond its original intent, for example, providing financing for a Chinese company to make solar panels in India, clearly obviating from its original mission of providing financing for the purpose of boosting American exports.
In essence, Americans are taking all the risk on behalf of the Ex-Im Bank, while companies in foreign countries receive all the benefits and literally laugh all the way to the bank.
As if all this wasn’t enough, Hochberg has also failed to implement the most basic administrative measures that would prevent conflicts of interest, so much so that Ex-Im employees have received free travel and entertainment from companies under consideration for financing assistance. In fact, in 2010, one media report found that employees received a travel package worth an estimated $97,000 from a company, which coincidentally received a $3 billion loan 11 months later.
Another report found employees had received over $360,000 for trips paid by prospective companies over a two-year period. Most other government agencies prohibit staff travel paid by companies with business pending before them, but not Hochberg’s agency; it relishes the special treatment and returns the favor using the full faith and credit of the American people.
Due to space constraints, we can only mention a handful of issues that should be front and center in the questioning of Mr. Hochberg. Rather than allowing a polished Washington bureaucrat deliver spin, Senators need to ask tough questions and demand complete answers from Hochberg.
He must take responsibility for the Ex-Im Bank’s record of hurting American employers, disregarding the economic impact of its actions and obscuring information that would demonstrate the Bank has not been abiding by the law passed by Congress when it most recently re-authorized its charter.
Few things have brought Republicans and Democrats together on Capitol Hill as of late, but one is the irresponsible and damaging decisions made by the U.S. Export-Import Bank. Its time they find the truth before more Americans lose their jobs at the hands of an out-of-control federal agency.