Export-Import Bank not dead yet?


by Al Kamen

Source: The Washington Post

The federal highway bill is stalled in a bitter House-Senate showdown, which may not end until the fall, after Congress gets back from a month of vacation, fundraising and doubtless some fine government-paid travel.

That means the battle over the future 81-year-old Export-Import Bank — whose charter expired June 30 — probably won’t be decided until then, since it’s part of the Senate’s version of the highway bill. (The bank provides loan guarantees to help U.S. corporations sell goods abroad.)

Meanwhile, Ex-Im’s Web site tells folks that the bank, which last year sent the Treasury $675 million for federal debt reduction (and $6.9 billion in the last 2o years) “is unable to process applications or engage in new business. . .”

So where are the “Liquidation!!” signs? What about those TV ads that say: “We’ve lost our lease! Everything must go!” More than 400 workers to hit the streets.

Well, not exactly, Ex-Im chairman Fred Hochberg explains. “There’s still a $107 billion loan portfolio out there that has to be managed,” he said, and “that’s not going to go away any time soon.” (By law, the portfolio can’t be transferred to another agency.)

In addition, $25 billion of that portfolio is obligated money (under contracts but not yet disbursed) that will have to be managed, he said. (Well, sure, you don’t want people to think: “Hey! Maybe we don’t have to pay them back.”)

So how long will it take to completely wind down? Unclear, but it might be as long as a couple of decades.

Meanwhile, the congressional “Battle of the Bank” looks to be ratcheting even higher. If that’s possible.

Just Tuesday morning we got a press release from one opponent, the National Center for Policy Analysis telling us that president and CEO Allen West believes “the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank undermines our credibility as a global economic leader.”

All those decades after World War II, when the United States seemed a global economic leader, there was Ex-Im, undermining us.

Who knew?






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