Apr 19, 2016
Freedom Partners Thanks Senator Shelby for Standing Against Corporate Welfare at the Ex-Im Bank
Post by Derek Yale
Arlington, VA — This week, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to U.S. Senator Richard Shelby thanking him for his continued stand against corporate welfare at the Export-Import Bank and for his opposition to advancing any nominee to the bank’s board of directors.
Despite being reauthorized last year, Ex-Im’s board of directors still has only two of the three members necessary for a quorum, which means the bank can’t authorize financing deals over $10 million. The open seat provides a modest, but important, check for taxpayers.
As chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, & Urban Affairs, Senator Shelby has remained opposed to filling Ex-Im’s board, which has forced the bank to refocus on small-business financing instead of doling out billion-dollar deals to multinational corporations.
We applaud Senator Shelby’s leadership on this issue, which is protecting taxpayers from exposure to foreign business deals and reducing the influence of cronyism in Washington.
Below is the full text of the letter:
April 18, 2016
The Honorable Richard C. Shelby
Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Mr. Chairman:
On behalf of our membership, we are writing today to thank you for your principled stand against corporate welfare at the Export-Import Bank and for your continued opposition to advancing any nominee to the bank’s board of directors.
In June 2015, Congress decided to let the Export-Import Bank expire for the first time in over 80 years, leading to an orderly wind-down of an outdated federal agency. However, the bank’s charter ultimately was reauthorized months later.
Having been reauthorized, the bank currently can approve taxpayer-backed financing to U.S. exporters and their customers. However, its board only has two of the three members necessary to form a quorum, which prevents the bank from authorizing deals worth more than $10 million.
Our members believe that this is a modest, but important, check on a bank that has come to symbolize corporate welfare and corruption.
Advancing any nominee to the Export-Import Bank’s board of directors—and therefore making possible financing deals in excess of $10 million—would open the floodgates to billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies being doled out to some of the largest and most well-financed companies in the world.
In fiscal year 2015, only 11 percent of the financing for deals over $10 million directly benefited small businesses.
The bank’s supporters lobbied for its reauthorization under the guise of helping small businesses finance smaller transactions. This $10 million limit forces the bank to refocus its efforts on small businesses.
In addition, despite putting billions of tax dollars at risk, the Export-Import Bank has backed less than two percent of U.S. exports since 2007. Similarly, closer to home: the bank backed just 0.34 percent of Alabama’s exports in 2014—a mere one-third of one percent—yet Alabama taxpayers are equally liable for the bank’s losses as any other state.
Your leadership over the past year is a big part of the reason that your constituents face less exposure today. You, along with many other members of Congress, have made it clear to the bank’s lobbyists that taxpayers should not have to subsidize multinational corporations.
The Export-Import Bank is not what its supporters make it out to be. It is an outdated federal agency characterized by corruption and a lack of accountability, and keeping the $10 million limit in place is an important step toward reducing the corrupting influence of cronyism and corporate welfare in Washington.
Our members appreciate your continued stand against the special interest groups pushing to fill the vacant seats on the the Export-Import Bank’s board of directors, and, again, we offer you our most sincere thanks for standing with us on behalf of hardworking taxpayers against corporate welfare.
Richard L. Ribbentrop
Senior Vice President, Policy
Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce