Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee recently wrote a provocative piece in National Review denouncing the “crony capitalism” so rampant in the Obama Administration and cheering efforts by Republicans to combat it. Sen. Lee hails the “Right’s resistance to corporatism” as “a welcome development,” and sets up the fight against “cronyist policies” as one that could come to define the modern Republican Party.
A GOP arrayed against corporate special interests, according to Lee, “could not only unify and excite conservatives, but appeal to hardworking families in the purple and blue communities that President Obama’s special-interest favoritism is leaving behind.” As a test case for this strategy, Lee specifically encourages his fellow Republicans in Congress to take action this summer when the Export-Import Bank comes up for reauthorization.
Sen. Lee has the right idea, but the Export-Import Bank is much more than an easy political punching bag for Republicans. The subsidies that the Bank provides to foreign companies – often those which are in direct competition with American firms – are killing American jobs and causing real harm to critical industries and therefore our economy. This affects all Americans – Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives alike. All politics aside, the Ex-Im Bank as it currently exists is simply bad policy and significant reforms if not outright elimination must take place.
The Export-Import Bank of the United States was created in 1934, a product of Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal.” Since that time, the Bank has provided billions and billions of dollars in financing for foreign companies seeking to buy American products. On its face, that’s a fairly harmless goal. The problem, however, arises when foreign companies many of which are bankrolled by governments or billionaires get cut-rate deals on domestic products, then turn right around and use that as an unfair competitive advantage against American employers.