This Federal Agency Has Two Focuses: Staying Alive, Helping the Well-Connected

Posted: May 08, 2015 12:01 AM

Fighting for the reauthorization of the Export Import (Ex-Im) Bank–and by proxy his cushy federal gig–Ex-Im Chairman Fred Hochberg is lashing out at critics: as conservative groups across the country build a growing coalition against this New Deal era relic, Hochberg has begun crisscrossing the country in a desperate attempt to maintain his corporate welfare slush fund.

After Ex-Im squandered billions of taxpayer backed dollars and misled the public about the recipients of its funding, the time is now to end the corrupt Export-Import Bank. Despite false claims that Ex-Im helps small businesses expand overseas, the numbers tell a different story. In 2013, 60 percent of the bank’s financing went to 10 massive corporations including Caterpillar and General Electric. A remaining 30 percent went to one recipient: Boeing.

While Chairman Hochberg has sought to cover up the label “Boeing’s Bank,” he is doing so only to placate his dwindling number of supporters. This attempt to deceive is not unique to Hochberg – in fact, the bank has a history of making misrepresentations in an effort to downplay its crony capitalistic track record.

According to a November 2014 Reuters report, the “U.S. Export-Import Bank has mischaracterized potentially hundreds of large companies and units of multinational conglomerates as small businesses.” These companies, including ones owned by billionaires Warren Buffet and Carlos Slim, received up to $8 billion “small business” funds over an eight-year period.

Even more troubling, despite claims that 20 percent of the of bank’s authorizations were given to women and minority-owned businesses, according to research based on Ex-Im’s own numbers, only 1.02 percent of distributions between 2007 and 2014 went to women-owned businesses. Even if the benchmark is number of firms supported, women-owned businesses only make up 5.8 percent of the businesses receiving funding between 2007 and 2014.

This willful disregard for facts represents a larger pattern of misinformation on the part of the bank.

To make matters worse, on April 14, the Department of Justice charged Johnny Gutierrez, a former loan officer at the bank, with accepting bribes on 19 different instances between 2006 and 2013. According to The Wall Street Journal, three other officials are currently under investigation for similar activities.

In January 2015, Diane Farrell, a former member of the board of directors of the Export-Import Bank joined the board of the Indian solar energy company Azure Power. According to reports, this was after Farrell voted to have the bank give nearly $16 million in loans to Azure Power.

Unfortunately, one group of people that do not benefit from the Ex-Im Bank is the American taxpayer. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the bank will cost taxpayers $2 billion over the next 10 years, despite its claims that it will generate a budget savings of $14 billion over the next decade. In addition to costing the United States billions, the bank has directly contributed to American job loss. According to the Airline Pilots Association of America, Ex-Im’s subsidizing of Boeing airline purchases overseas has forced domestic airlines to cut approximately 7,500 jobs, a nearly two percent decrease in the airline workforce.

The Export-Import Bank has outlived its usefulness and has evolved into a fund to underwrite large corporations’ overseas business. Congress must ensure that the bank is not reauthorized and guarantee that it cannot cause any more harm to our economy.