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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Monday, September 18, 2017

Trump's Nominee Scott Garrett Elegantly Squares The Circular Republican Firing Squad

Former Representative Scott Garrett
Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Forbes
by Ralph Benko, Contributing Author:  Former Representative Scott Garrett is on record, as reported by Politico, as committed to supporting President Trump’s commitment to having a “‘functional’ export credit agency” while seeing Ex-Im, which provides trade financing to American exporters, "reformed and modernized as outlined by Congress." This is entirely sound.

Garrett has the perfect qualifications to “mend, not end” Ex-Im.

I’ve known Rep. Garrett slightly for several years and think highly of him. While a Member of Congress Garrett was quite militant about eliminating the Export-Import Bank. According to an article in Politico, “In 2015, he said the agency ‘embodies the corruption of the free enterprise system.’” This, of course, endeared him to free market conservatives while offending Ex-Im's beneficiaries.

It was therefore unexpected but not unwelcome that Garrett accepted President Trump’s nomination for its presidency. President Trump, never one to be imprisoned by that hobgoblin of little minds, a foolish consistency, reversed his campaign trail opposition to Ex-Im:[Trump’s] budget chief Mick Mulvaney said on CNBC (transcript via Reason) Wednesday that Trump was now pro-Ex-Im, and the president himself professed his love for Boeing's bank to the Wall Street Journal:

The president said he planned to fill two vacancies on the bank's board, which has been effectively paralyzed with three open seats on its five-member board.

"It turns out that, first of all, lots of small companies are really helped, the vendor companies," Mr. Trump said. "But also, maybe more important, other countries give [assistance]. When other countries give it we lose a tremendous amount of business." ...

"Instinctively, you would say, 'Isn't that a ridiculous thing,' Mr. Trump said of the Ex-Im Bank. 'But actually, it's a very good thing. And it actually makes money, it could make a lot of money.'
Some of my friends -- small government conservatives -- are passionately opposed to the Ex-Im. They, like Garrett, see it as an artifact of cronyism and believe, surely correctly, that the private sector can do better.

Some of my friends -- Chamber of Commerce Republicans -- are passionate supporters of Ex-Im. They consider it a valuable tool to help neutralize the advantage of subsidies provided by our trading partners to their own exporters.

As for me … obsessed as I am by policies that will foment great equitable prosperity, an objective for which Ex-Im represents a rounding error … I stand by my friends.

The Garrett nomination really is brilliant for both the pro-and-anti Ex-Imers. As reported by Politico, “White House spokeswoman Natalie Strom said Garrett was "eminently qualified to lead the Ex-Im Bank. … The president stands behind his nomination and is looking forward to his confirmation."

What does this Republican circular firing squad du jour look like?

The president of the National Association of Manufacturers, Jay Timmons, has alled for President Trump to withdraw Garrett’s nomination. Meanwhile, nine conservative groups, including the Club for Growth, Heritage Action and FreedomWorks, have rallied to the defense of Trump’s nominee, stating: “It is beyond audacious that the recipients of the Bank’s subsidies believe that they, not the president, can select the person to run the very agency that will hand the goodies out to them."

Trump’s appointment of a staunch critic of Ex-Im as its president is an elegant way to square this circle.

Garrett, in a letter to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Id), according to Politico, “said he backs the president's policy of having a ‘functional’ export credit agency but that it needed to be ‘reformed and modernized as outlined by Congress.’"

"’My job would be to fulfill the administration's agenda of creating more jobs and helping manufacturing in this country,’" Garrett told POLITICO in a brief interview at the Capitol. "That's our agenda.’"
Meanwhile, Ex-Im, with three vacant seats on its five member board “can’t provide loans greater than $10 million.” According to the
SF Chronicle:China’s well-funded trade policies combined with the bank’s political paralysis have hurt firms like Environmental Chemical Corp. in Burlingame. The company recently landed a $58 million loan from the bank to help sell water treatment equipment to Cameroon.

But Rick Ebel, the firm’s vice president of international development, said it lost a different potential contract to the Chinese, partly because the Export-Import Bank, with its $10 million limitation, was not fully backing U.S. companies, as the corporation’s competitor pointed out.

“The Chinese are very aggressive,” Ebel said. “They just pushed us away.”

Veronique du Rugy, a senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, would like to see the Export-Import Bank go away. She argues that most of the agency’s money goes toward financing exports from large U.S. corporations.

“The Export-Import Bank is a quintessential example of cronyism,” de Rugy said. “The program exists mostly to prop up profits of very large corporations.”

It’s true that nearly three-quarters of the $12.4 billion the bank lent out last year went to larger companies. But small businesses — firms with less than 500 employees — accounted for 90 percent of all transaction volume.

As for large corporations, even giants like Boeing and General Electric face a difficult time competing in countries that either heavily subsidize homegrown companies or penalize foreign goods. That’s why the United States is trying to forge free trade agreements to eliminate those competitive barriers.
Trump’s nomination of Garrett for president of Ex-Im promises to elegantly resolve the competing priorities. Trump has declared he will “drain the swamp,” meaning to attack cronyism. Trump also is avid to keep China from eating America’s trade lunch. Ex-Im, if administered more evenhandedly between small business and Big Business, is not especially pernicious.

Meanwhile, Ex-Im is hobbled by the lack of a quorum on its board. Confirming Garrett would break that logjam.

Garrett is a man of unimpeachable integrity. In the Congress he consistently proved as good as his word even when that proved politically costly to him. He has unequivocally committed to supporting President Trump’s agenda for Ex-Im, in concert with the will of the Congress. Garrett’s Senate confirmation would be another step forward toward making America great again.
-----------------
Ralph Benko is an advisor to nonprofit and advocacy organizations, is a member of the Conservative Action Project, a contributor to the contributor to the ARRA News Service. Founder of The Prosperity Caucus, he was a member of the Jack Kemp supply-side team, served in an unrelated area as a deputy general counsel in the Reagan White House. The article which first appeared in Forbes.

Tags: Ralph Benko, President Trump, nominee, Ex IM, Scott Garrett, Squares The Circular, Republican Firing Squad To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 1:45 PM - Post Link

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