By William J. McLaughlin – A major struggle related to the Export-Import Bank of the United States is starting in Congress and in the media. EX-IM Bank’s major role is to provide credit guarantees to U.S. manufacturers so they can sell in the export market. In essence, EX-IM reviews the credit worthiness of potential customers, gets credit guarantees from banks in the customer’s country, and, if possible, issues credit guarantees to U.S. banks that then loan money to U.S. companies to fund the manufacturing and exporting. In the last four years, EX-IM has helped over 6,000 companies in all 50 states. It generates over one billion dollars of profit annually.
If a country or customer cheats and refuses to pay, that country can be shut off from further credit. In other words, they, in effect, cannot buy American products, services and technologies until they pay. This is a big club and it works. Is this a distortion of “pure” marketplace economics? Of course, but every advanced country in the world has such an institution, so to kill EX-IM would be a declaration of war on U.S. industry and severely hurt our ability to compete internationally. Fifty-four countries have similar institutions and, of course, the Chinese have the biggest.
The Export-Import Bank of the United States was founded in 1934 and made a U.S. Government agency in 1945. It has functioned in that role under six Republican and six Democratic presidents. The majority of the board and the president of the bank are appointed by the President of the United States. It is not a Republican or Democratic bank. It is an American bank. It makes money every year and helps reduce the deficit with both its profits and those of the companies it helps.
The leaders of those trying to kill the EX-IM Bank are Congressman Amash of Grand Rapids, Michigan and Senator Mike Lee of Utah. Both are Tea Part favorites. Lee was a leader of the effort to shut down the government earlier, closing all of Utah’s tourism locations. He was no where to be seen until that was over. Both claim to be supportive of creating American jobs, but their actions will have an opposite effect. If one of our goals is to help American industry, help Americans get jobs, and reduce the debt, we should support EX-IM. If Amash and Lee want the government to be “pure”, do they want the Corps of Engineers to stop dredging rivers and harbors, NOAA to stop watching hurricanes and climate change, stop the Postal Service from delivering the mail, and stop the Federal Drug Administration from insuring the effectiveness and purity of pharmaceuticals. I want the government to be smaller, but there are legitimate functions of government.
Years ago, my wife and I took our two oldest children to a local school to receive the newly developed vaccine against polio. The line was over a half mile long. It was with great joy that we saw our children protected from that horrible disease. We did not refuse the medication because Dr. Salk had worked with U.S. Government funding. Amash and Lee both have children. I am certain that they too have been inoculated against polio——and, no doubt, on our dime. Even they know when to use common sense—-sometimes.
We are in the middle of a tough struggle as President Putin is trying to crush freedom in Ukraine and recreate Imperial Russia. This is no time to be weakening our Nation further in the international arena.
Reinforcement of EX-IM Bank is common sense. To destroy it is to hurt U.S. companies and their subcontractors, U.S. workers, U.S. towns ( including those in Michigan and Utah), etc. To destroy the Export-Import Bank of the United States is pure idiocy. It is past time to reject these ideologues of both the Left and the Right and return to common sense and working for the good of our Nation. No congressman or senator who supports Amash and Lee in this effort should be allowed to remain Congress. None of them.
Mr. McLaughlin is a life long Republican and was an elected delegate to the 2008 national Republican convention. He is also a businessman, physicist, Army veteran and father of four.