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Congressman Denny Heck

Representing the 10th District of Washington

No more “truthiness” about the Export-Import Bank’s cost to taxpayers – It’s time for the facts

Jul 31, 2014
In The News

Taxpayers are rightly concerned about waste and fraud. Last year’s government shutdown cost $24 billion. An additional $1.3 billion was lost as a result of America’s credit rating being lowered. Millions have been spent to repeal the Affordable Care Act, create a Select Committee on Benghazi, and to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court.

None of these stunts create jobs, grow our economy, empower the American worker, or create paychecks that provide more for American families. The one thing they are guaranteed to do?

Waste the taxpayer’s money.

Ironically, one program under attack as a waste of taxpayer money— despite it having returned $1 billion to the U.S. Treasury last year alone—is the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) of the United States.

The Ex-Im Bank allows American companies to access new markets in undeveloped nations, providing loans and guarantees to ensure the transactions are legitimate and fully paid.

If, for example, an Ethiopian airline wants to buy a Boeing 777 made here in America, it needs a loan for that large purchase. The Ex-Im Bank can provide that loan to ensure the money is received in full. If a Danish transportation department needs the most durable traffic cones on the market, Pexco in Fife, Washington, can work with the Ex-Im Bank to fill the order.

The Ex-Im Bank does all this work and funds itself through fees collected from the foreign companies buying U.S.-made goods. Those fees are enough to cover all of the bank’s costs, and any profit goes straight to the U.S. Treasury.

In a perfect world, the private markets would provide financing to these companies, and we wouldn’t need the Ex-Im Bank. But it’s not a perfect world. It’s one in which 60 nations lend billions of dollars to broaden the reach of their manufacturers. It’s one in which doing away with the Ex-Im Bank would amount to unilateral disarmament, willingly removing a bullet from our arsenal that helps us compete abroad – just as our nation’s manufacturing base has a chance to get moving again.

Our American manufacturers need the assurance that the Ex-Im Bank provides. Through the strength and muster of the American government’s brand, they are able to enter new markets where operating alone is too risky.

I introduced the Protect American Jobs and Exports Act to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank for seven years, and to raise the amount of money it’s able to loan over that period to $175 billion. I was joined by 201 cosponsors.

And yet, the Ex-Im Bank is in the fight for its life because ideologues addicted to political theater claim it puts taxpayer dollars at risk. This is not true. No taxpayer funds have been shown to be allocated to fund the Ex-Im Bank’s transactions. And by returning $1 billion to the U.S. Treasury, the Ex-Im Bank is proving that it doesn’t need them.

Americans often ask for two things from their legislators: don’t raise our taxes and don’t waste our money. If we can find more common-sense ideas that allow businesses to succeed in the global marketplace, keep more Americans employed, and help our local economies flourish without raising taxes or wasting money, that’s the kind of leadership Americans want from Congress.

As House leadership moves to more lawsuits, fights, and sham investigations, taxpayer money is flushed down the toilet. Americans remain out of work, and our communities suffer.

Instead of fighting, placing blame, and putting on a show, both Democrats and Republicans must come together to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. This simple, self-funding tool is an easy way to protect our economy and restore our global competitiveness.