After more than three-quarters of a century, the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) could close its doors on June 30.
Ex-Im was created by Executive Order in 1934 by Franklin D. Roosevelt. With the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, Congress made Ex-Im an independent agency and required that Ex-Im be reauthorized every four to five years. Ex-Im’s current authorization expires at month’s end.
Ex-Im has historically enjoyed bipartisan support. However, the need to cut spending—coupled with watchdog reporting—brings reauthorization into question. Under the Obama Administration, Ex-Im lending has increased 248 percent. Taxpayers now hold nearly $140 billion in Ex-Im exposure.
The Ex-Im website states: “EXIM Bank is more critical than ever to small businesses.” However, a recent report from American Transparency (AT), the Federal Transfer Report – Export- Import Bank, found that while 90 percent of Ex-Im loans do go to small businesses, 85 percent of the money goes to big business—10 percent of the transactions get 85 percent of the money.
The AT report, released on May 30, analyzed the $172 billion in Ex-Im loans, guarantees, and activity since 2007.
Boeing is Ex-Im’s number one customer.
The addendum points to $3 billion green energy companies received from Ex-Im. There are more than $140 million worth of failures within the financial transaction portfolio—though “additional time, resources and further research would turn up much more.”
Solyndra is on the list. Just six months before its infamous bankruptcy, Ex-Im approved $10.3 million in long-term credit to Solyndra’s exports to Belgium.
Spanish solar company Abengoa, which is under investigation for a variety of violations, has an interesting connection to Ex-Im: former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson is an advisory board member to Ex-Im and sits on Abengoa’s advisory board. The addendum states: “Abengoa has obligations of over $225 million in Ex-Im support.”
Other examples include Amonix, Evergreen Solar, Abound Solar, SolFocus, Calisolar/Silicor Materials, and Willard & Kelsey Solar Group—all received Ex-Im support and failed.
But, our taxpayer dollars didn’t just go to failing green-energy projects; they also went to foreign companies. In addition to Spain-based Abengoa, Germany-based Siemens Energy has been the recipient of $709.53 million in Ex-Im financing. Switzerland-based ABB got $89.22 million. France-based Areva Solar North America received nearly $54 million in Ex-Im support. China’s troubled Hanergy owns MiaSole, which received $9 million in “working capital” funding from Ex-Im.
Green-energy companies are not the only ones in the energy sector to take advantage of the low-cost, taxpayer-funded financing. Multinational oil company Exxon Mobil and oil industry service companies Halliburton and Schlumberger also received billions.
It is tough to chastise these companies for making wise business decisions in finding low-cost funding—but we can criticize Congress for allowing our taxpayer dollars to be given to them.
Ex-Im supporters claim that failure to reauthorize would threaten jobs. Siemens, GE, ExxonMobil, Halliburton, and Schlumberger—just to mention some of the big businesses in the energy sector—should all be able to continue without Ex-Im.
Addressing Ex-Im’s future, Adam Andrzejewski, Chairman of American Transparency and the report’s author says: “The fate of the bank is an important test that will show whether Congress is on the side of taxpayers, and basic market principles, or special interests that are capable of bending markets in their direction.”
Ex-Im is one case where a “do-nothing Congress” is a good thing. If they do nothing, Ex-Im’s authorization expires on June 30; and we, the taxpayers, will no longer be responsible for funding this corporate welfare.
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This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth