“I’m not a Democrat who believes that we can or should defend every government program, just because it’s there. Like … the Export-Import Bank that’s become little more than a fund for corporate welfare.” These are the words of Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign.
As a liberal former congressman and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, and a Republican congressman who chairs the House Freedom Caucus, we agree with then-candidate Obama that the Ex-Im Bank is little more than a fund for corporate welfare. And we are united in the belief that taxpayers should not be forced to support welfare for some of the world’s largest companies.
While it began as a New Deal-era program with good intentions, the Ex-Im Bank has become a slush fund for a handful of well-connected megacorporations. Efforts to reform the bank, including one by Kucinich in 2002, have ended in disappointment.
The bank has also failed to comply with reforms that are on the books. Additionally, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigations have uncovered that the bank is rampant with potential fraud and abuse. The bank’s inspector general is investigating 31 cases, with one indictment and more possible.
Today, Ex-Im funds support only 2 percent of U.S. exports. The vast majority of exporters find their funding elsewhere.
Presidential candidates on both sides rightly oppose the bank. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and nearly every Republican candidate want it to expire. But now that the environment is right to let the bank wind down, lobbyists for Boeing and other favored companies are trying to sway Congress with “Chicken Little” tales of woe and the unstated understanding that campaign dollars will flow to those who toe the Big Business line. This is wrong.
Like then-Sen. Obama, we agree that it’s not right for Congress to defend every government institution. Sometimes, reforms are no longer enough to rescue a program. That’s the case with the Ex-Im Bank. It’s time to let it expire.
This piece was written for and published by USA Today as an opposing view to another opinion. Former representative Dennis Kucinich is a Democrat from Ohio. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, is a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.