Draining the Swamp: Trump Takes Aim on the Export-Import Bank

ELDER PATRIOT – When President Trump nominated former Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) to serve on the Export-Import Bank’s Board of Directors he was hit with a shit-storm of criticism from conservatives who had supported Trump’s candidacy.

Trump had promised not to re-authorize the Export-Import Bank because it allows a government agency to pick winners and losers using crony capitalism.  The Ex-Im Bank subsidizes the financing of U.S. exports, giving its members the ability to benefit special interests.  This in turn provides a vehicle for members of the bank to enrich themselves through backroom deals. 

The appointment of Bachus sounded alarms because he is an establishment Republican who used the connections and information he learned during his time in Congress to game the system to his advantage.  Trump promised to drain the swamp and Bachus is neck deep in the muck.

Marc Thiessen writing for the American Enterprise Institute explains:

“Insider trading is illegal–except for members of Congress. A Wall Street executive who buys or sells stock based on insider information would face a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation and quite possibly a federal prosecutor. But senators and congressmen are free to legally trade stock based on nonpublic information they have obtained through their official positions as elected officials.”

[…]

“…during the 2008 financial crisis, Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.)–then-ranking Republican on the House Financial Services Committee–aggressively bought stock options based on apocalyptic briefings he had received the day before from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson.”

Those of us who believe that crony capitalism has served as a major step towards socialism were devastated by the appointment of Bachus.  Now, however, Trump’s supporters should be heartened by Trump’s appointment, last Friday, of former NJ Congressman Scott Garrett to be President of the Export-Import Bank.

Garrett had been targeted for defeat by progressives who had spent wildly to unseat him in the last election because of his ultra conservative principles.  For the George Soros funded effort this may well be a case of winning the battle but losing the war.  Their success in beating him may well spell the neutering of the Ex-Im Bank.

Garrett is a strong fiscal conservative, with a 95% lifetime score from the Club for Growth.  Getting elected to seven terms was no small feat coming from a fairly moderate district in the New York City metropolitan area. While serving in Congress Garrett had been a member of the Freedom Caucus, the Liberty Caucus, and was a disciple of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).

Most important, Garrett was a staunch opponent of the Ex-Im Bank having voted against its reauthorization in 2015 at which time he explained his reasons:

“It’s hard to imagine anything more unfair and un-American than having the government financially support mega-corporations at the expense of small businesses and American workers.

“But that is exactly what has been happening, and it will continue to happen if we don’t let the Export-Import Bank expire next month.  It rewards those with close relationships with Washington bureaucrats and makes victims of startups that dare to compete against them—literally picking winners and losers in our economy.

“Ex-Im has transformed the role of government from a disinterested referee that guarantees a free and open marketplace into a biased actor that tilts the scales in favor of its friends in businesses.  We have the opportunity to save capitalism from cronyism and to fulfill a promise to the American people to work for them instead of a select few with special connections in Washington.  For the sake of the American taxpayer and the preservation of the free enterprise system, Congress should put the Export-Import Bank out of business.”

President Trump’s strategy is becoming clear.  He has bigger fish to fry than the Export-Import Bank at this time.  He needs Republican votes to repeal and replace Obamacare and to pass major tax reform.  He is apparently throwing Republicans a bone, as distasteful as it is to his conservative base, so that he can deliver on significantly more important issues.

This is the underbelly of politics that the rest of us find so disgusting but is necessary to getting things done.

I have had dealings with Scott Garrett and know him to be a hard-nosed, no nonsense conservative.  Scott is the real deal.  Like Scott Pruitt at the EPA he will reign in the out of control cronyism that threatens our small businesses and adds significant and completely unnecessary costs to everything Americans buy.

Of course we all want major reforms that completely eliminate these un-Constitutional agencies but that may be nearly impossible because of the level of correuption in Congress.  At least President Trump is signaling that for his tenure these agencies will be sufficiently neutered so as to do the least damage possible to our economy and our freedoms.

If this is the price of healthcare reform and tax reform President Trump will have lived up to his much-hyped ability to make good deals.