"When Export-Import Bank helps G.E., and others build an oil refinery in Turkey, it hurts the domestic refining industry," says Hensarling. "For every job Export-Import creates in exports, they kill an American job domestically. It's not helping us."
But few of us bother to complain. Benefits of government spending go to a concentrated few -- who fight to keep the program going. When taxpayers and domestic businesses suffer because of resources transferred to the well-connected Ex-Im Bank-linked businesses, we each lose just a few bucks. We will never hire as many lobbyists to criticize the bank as the beneficiaries do to keep it going. Like every other government program, Ex-Im Bank creates a vocal constituency that never wants to see the program die.
And that time and energy spent lobbying is time that companies might have devoted to improving their product or making their business more efficient. Gifts from government get companies to focus on lobbying instead of innovation. Government favoritism creates bad incentives.
Before he was president, Barack Obama agreed with me. He said, "I'm not a Democrat who believes that we can or should defend every government program just because it's there. There are some that don't work, like ... the Export-Import Bank that has become little more than a fund for corporate welfare."
Yes! (SET ITAL) Candidate (END ITAL) Obama understood. But now, instead of getting rid of the Ex-Im Bank, he wants the bank to loan out even (SET ITAL) more (END ITAL) of your money.
Does America need "export assistance," as well as "small business support," an "energy policy" and so on?
No! We already have a time-tested policy for deciding, without government interference, where resources should go. It's called the free market. It works much better than government does.