Trump nominates Ex-Im bank critic to lead it

Draining the swamp? Or putting a fox in the henhouse?

President Trump nominated former congressman Scott Garrett to become president of the Export-Import bank. Garrett is a noted critic of the bank, believing it “embodies the corruption of the free enterprise system.”

Trump spoke out against the bank while on the campaign trail, but reversed himself this past week by indicating his support.

The Hill:

If confirmed, Garrett would serve a four-year term at the helm of the bank, which aims to make U.S. exports more competitive around the world by lending money to foreign buyers.

Trump is also nominating another former lawmaker to the bank: Spencer Bachus of Alabama, who once led the financial services panel. Bachus, who served on Capitol Hill from 1993 to 2014 and supported the bank’s reauthorization.

Trump opposed the Ex-Im Bank on the campaign trail, but he did an about-face this week, saying he now supports it.

“Instinctively, you would say, ‘Isn’t that a ridiculous thing,’ ” the president told The Wall Street Journal. “But actually, it’s a very good thing. And it actually makes money, it could make a lot of money.”

Conservative groups including Club for Growth, Heritage Action and Americans for Prosperity have long opposed the bank, saying it promotes crony capitalism.

Garrett faced a tough reelection battle last year and ended up losing his seat, despite strong support from conservative outside groups like Club for Growth. During the two-year election cycle, his top contributors were individuals who worked at Club for Growth, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Garrett served in Congress from 2003 to 2016 and served on both the House Budget Committee and the House Financial Services Committee. He railed against the bank during a floor speech in October 2015, when Congress let the bank’s charter expire after GOP infighting about whether it should be reauthorized.

“We have the opportunity to save capitalism from cronyism. … We have the opportunity to keep the export-import bank out of business, and we should take those opportunities,” Garrett said in opposition a measure to revive the bank.

“The Export-Import Bank transformed the role of government from a disinterested referee in the economy into a biased actor that uses your taxpayer dollars to tilt the scales in favor of its friends.”

Conservatives in Congress ultimately won a temporary shutdown of Ex-Im that lasted for nearly six months.

The charter was reauthorized in December of 2015 after a group of House Democrats and Republicans teamed up to employ a rarely used procedural move that let the bank lend again.

It appears that the presdident has cut the baby in half, giving something to both the pro and anti Ex-Im bank factions. But by appointing anyone to head the bank - even someone who opposes its existence - the president has signalled that he wants the bank to continue to operate.

Perhaps Garrett can introduce reforms that make the bank less of a haven for crony capitalists. But by its very nature, the bank encourages a clubbiness that favors large US corporations and does relatively little to improve our balance of trade.

The Ex-Im bank is a waste of tax dollars that could be better spent giving tax cuts to business to make their products more competitive. Perhaps the president will change his mind again when tax reform will be considered later this year.

Draining the swamp? Or putting a fox in the henhouse?

President Trump nominated former congressman Scott Garrett to become president of the Export-Import bank. Garrett is a noted critic of the bank, believing it “embodies the corruption of the free enterprise system.”

Trump spoke out against the bank while on the campaign trail, but reversed himself this past week by indicating his support.

The Hill:

If confirmed, Garrett would serve a four-year term at the helm of the bank, which aims to make U.S. exports more competitive around the world by lending money to foreign buyers.

Trump is also nominating another former lawmaker to the bank: Spencer Bachus of Alabama, who once led the financial services panel. Bachus, who served on Capitol Hill from 1993 to 2014 and supported the bank’s reauthorization.

Trump opposed the Ex-Im Bank on the campaign trail, but he did an about-face this week, saying he now supports it.

“Instinctively, you would say, ‘Isn’t that a ridiculous thing,’ ” the president told The Wall Street Journal. “But actually, it’s a very good thing. And it actually makes money, it could make a lot of money.”

Conservative groups including Club for Growth, Heritage Action and Americans for Prosperity have long opposed the bank, saying it promotes crony capitalism.

Garrett faced a tough reelection battle last year and ended up losing his seat, despite strong support from conservative outside groups like Club for Growth. During the two-year election cycle, his top contributors were individuals who worked at Club for Growth, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Garrett served in Congress from 2003 to 2016 and served on both the House Budget Committee and the House Financial Services Committee. He railed against the bank during a floor speech in October 2015, when Congress let the bank’s charter expire after GOP infighting about whether it should be reauthorized.

“We have the opportunity to save capitalism from cronyism. … We have the opportunity to keep the export-import bank out of business, and we should take those opportunities,” Garrett said in opposition a measure to revive the bank.

“The Export-Import Bank transformed the role of government from a disinterested referee in the economy into a biased actor that uses your taxpayer dollars to tilt the scales in favor of its friends.”

Conservatives in Congress ultimately won a temporary shutdown of Ex-Im that lasted for nearly six months.

The charter was reauthorized in December of 2015 after a group of House Democrats and Republicans teamed up to employ a rarely used procedural move that let the bank lend again.

It appears that the presdident has cut the baby in half, giving something to both the pro and anti Ex-Im bank factions. But by appointing anyone to head the bank - even someone who opposes its existence - the president has signalled that he wants the bank to continue to operate.

Perhaps Garrett can introduce reforms that make the bank less of a haven for crony capitalists. But by its very nature, the bank encourages a clubbiness that favors large US corporations and does relatively little to improve our balance of trade.

The Ex-Im bank is a waste of tax dollars that could be better spent giving tax cuts to business to make their products more competitive. Perhaps the president will change his mind again when tax reform will be considered later this year.

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