But some members of Congress wants to keep the Export-Import Bank of the United States alive.
From the Wall Street Journal--paid subscription required:
The ExIm Bank—founded in 1934 to support trade with the Soviet Union, but never mind—provides taxpayer-backed loan guarantees and other services to U.S. business, especially big exporters. The bank's renewable charter expired on September 30 and Congress has kept it alive through temporary spending bills.Technorati tags: congress government gop Democrats banking finance
Business lobbies claim the country can't afford to let the bank expire or—gasp—private banks like Citigroup and J.P. Morgan would have to do more trade financing. California Republican Gary Miller, supported by fellow Republican Spencer Bachus, Democrat Barney Frank and others, has a bill pending in the House to prolong the bank's life through 2015 and raise its lending cap to $160 billion from $100 billion. The House Financial Services Committee waved the bill through in a voice vote last year and it's likely to get a floor vote this month.
The issue deserves more public scrutiny, starting with the bank's mission. ExIm says it takes risks that private lenders are "unable or unwilling" to take. But in today's global capital markets, there are very few places (North Korea) where private banks are unable to function, which raises the question of why taxpayers should bear risks that private banks are unwilling to take. At the same time, ExIm also paints itself as a low-risk enterprise. It can't be both.