Political Support Erodes For Export-Import Bank

Free market Republicans want to shut down the Export-Import Bank, claiming it is a rancid example of crony capitalism. The fight has laid bare a sharp philosophical split within the GOP.

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The Export-Import Bank is an 80-year-old Washington institution whose mission is to help U.S. companies sell products abroad. Now the bank is being threatened with extinction. Tea Party Republicans argue that the bank's really just providing corporate welfare. NPR's John Ydstie has more.

JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: The Ex-Im bank was created during Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal to support the export of U.S. goods. Today on Capitol Hill, the House Financial Services Committee is discussing whether it should be killed. Committee Chairmen Jeb Hensarling of Texas argued it mainly helps giant companies. So who benefits?

REPRESENTATIVE JEB HENSARLING: Overwhelming and indisputably, it's some of the largest, richest, most politically connected corporations in the world.

YDSTIE: Companies like Boeing and Caterpillar. The bank provides loans and loan guarantees for their foreign customers. The White House and business organizations like the Chamber of Commerce argued closing the bank would be a big blow to U.S. exports and hurt thousands of small- and medium-sized U.S. businesses who depend on the bank's financing to sell their goods. This week, Tea Party Republicans gained ground in their effort to kill the bank when California Republican Kevin McCarthy, who will soon take over as House Majority Leader, said he wants the bank closed. The bank's charter expires in September, and McCarthy controls whether a renewal comes to a vote. John Ydstie, NPR News, Washington.

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