The Export-Import Bank's Trifecta of Abuse

David Williams

2/22/2014 12:01:00 AM - David Williams

The Export-Import Bank has become the poster child of crony capitalism and now the Bank is under scrutiny for sending money to countries with massive human rights abuses.

The second largest federal contractor, and the Export-Import Bank’s largest recipient in the United States didn’t pay federal income taxes in 2013.

You read that right. Boeing, which has mastered the art of the sweetheart deal and making pork rain in every direction, had a tax rate of -1.4 percent last year. Not only did they get our money, but a refund to boot.

A huge player in this game of crony capitalism is a usual suspect, the Export-Import Bank, headed up by Fred Hochberg. In a nutshell, if you’re an airline that needs some funding so you don’t have to cover your own costs, the Export-Import Bank is your taxpayer-backed lifeline.

Even more so if you offer little to no direct benefit to the taxpayers subsidizing you.

Boeing has long benefitted from Ex-Im cronyism. The company has received 80 percent of the subsidies doled out by the bank in 2012, amounting to foreign airlines getting their planes at a cheaper rate than our own. A report from The Wall Street Journal pegged the bank’s havoc as costing over half a billion dollars and 7,500 jobs.

This comes at a time when Boeing is flourishing without the need for our dollars. It brings in $80 billion a year and its stock prices are hovering near all-time highs.

Where there is the free-market, the Export-Import Bank is clearly there to serve as a virtual blank check.

Unfortunately, this is hardly the end of the line when it comes to the cronyism and abuse of taxpayer dollars. Less than a week ago, the bank announcedunlimited, “funding to business projects in Angola.” Up until then, they had a credit line of 12 billion kwanzas, but consider that ceiling scrapped.

Our tax dollars are being funneled away to provide infinite assistance to interests in another country.

This coming at a time when our workforce participation is at its lowest since 1978.

Just a week before announcing the Angola shenanigans, Ex-Im announced it was going to throw some largesse Burma’s way. In the release Hochberg stated the deal “will improve trade flows between our two countries and help reintegrate Burma into the global economy.”

This ignores the fact that Burma’s human rights violations are so bad that other elements of our own federal government have refused to assist them. It was one of just four nations banned from getting military assistance this year, thanks to the Child Soldiers Prevention Act. A prohibition on importing jades and rubies is still in place.

It’s not a stretch to say our tax dollars are now running the risk of funding a child soldier army.

This sort of cronyism from the Export-Import Bank is counterintuitive at best, hypocritical and downright disgusting at its worst. It’s shelling out our money to boost companies that don’t need it, and whose interests directly harm a sector of our own economy.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, in just a two week span its opened the doors of unlimited funding for another nation’s businesses and another that constantly violates human rights and enlists children to carry out its aims.

That goes to show the power that’s been forked over to an unelected crony like Hochberg and the bank he leads. This picking of winners and losers at the expense of common-sense and our economy has to stop.

The Angola, Burma, and Boeing trifecta should be the last straw on this mis-guided adventure in cronyism.