If the GOP Congressional Majority Can’t Kill the Ex-Im Bank, It Can’t Do Anything Worth Doing

With control of both houses of Congress, the GOP has no excuse whatever on the question of killing the corporatist Export-Import Bank. The House failed to kill the bank in 2014, keeping a big-corporation slush fund (‘long-term loan guarantees’) alive in ’15. So here we are, with the GOP possessing majorities in both federal legislative chambers: what will they do with that power? Tim Carney writes, in The Crony Capitalism Litmus Test @ Reason:

….leaders of both chambers on September 17 agreed to stick a nine-month extension of Ex-Im into a C.R. funding the government through mid-December. The deal passed the House 319-108, and the Senate 78-22.

Conservative groups immediately came out against the short-term extension-any vote for Ex-Im is a vote for corporate welfare, they maintained. “There will be some who profess opposition to Ex-Im while publicly worrying that President Obama and Senate Democrats will consider an extension of the bank as a prerequisite to fund the federal government,” Heritage Action CEO Mike Needham wrote in an email. “Ex-Im is the poster child for cronyism and corporate welfare, and conservatives cannot shy away from the national spotlight or allow others to muddle what should be a clear, anti-cronyism, anti-corporate welfare message.”

Tea Party enforcers at Heritage Action and Club for Growth felt that conservatives would lose their political leverage after the November election-specifically, when McCarthy won a full term as House majority leader. Their best chance, many conservatives would argue behind closed doors, was to make it clear to McCarthy that he could keep his job only by helping kill Ex-Im….

Still, if you took a poll of both chambers on Ex-Im, more members would favor the bank than oppose it. All Democrats voted for Ex-Im in 2012. About half of Republicans probably support it now.

That means that to win-to kill or significantly pare back Ex-Im-Hensarling, Heritage Action, the Club for Growth, and their allies need to actually change Republicans’ hearts. They’ll get a boost if November brings victories to Senate challengers being attacked for opposing Ex-Im: John Cassidy in Louisiana, Cory Gardner in Colorado, and Thom Tillis in North Carolina.

Most important might be the presidential primary, which will be in full swing by the May and June re-authorization debate. Candidates for the GOP nod will be courting the conservative base. Increasingly, that base sees corporate welfare as a signature vice of both the GOP establishment and Obamanomics. That means most Republican contenders will have to oppose Ex-Im.

When 29 governors wrote to Congress demanding re-authorization in July 2014, a number of Republican governors declined to sign the letter, including Scott Walker, Mike Pence, Bobby Jindal, Rick Snyder, Chris Christie, and John Kasich. In other words, every governor with 2016 ambitions refused to back Ex-Im, except for Rick Perry….

I’d bet a GOP majority votes to re-authorize, with a majority of Democrats joining them.

We’ll know soon enough: is there any true free-market ethos left in the GOP?

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