By Steve LaTourette
There are a lot of phony fights in Washington these days, and too often we see faux outrage generated by interest groups as they fan the flames for fundraising.
The good news is that there are still many members of Congress who continue to stand up for what’s right for their districts and the country. That’s what we’re seeing today from Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, and his colleagues in both parties who are fighting to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank in the face of misleading attacks by professional conservative interest groups.
As a former member of Congress from Ohio, I know firsthand how critical the Export-Import Bank has been to the survival of small businesses. Last year alone the bank supported more than $37 billion in export sales for American companies. These sales, from 3,800 companies, supported almost 205,000 jobs, including thousands in New York.
Remarkably, opponents have called the Ex-Im Bank “crony capitalism” and “corporate welfare.” While that sort of hyperbolic rhetoric might make for good talk-radio fodder, it does not come close to representing the reality of this important institution.
In fact, small businesses receive the bulk of support from the Ex-Im Bank. They are the engines that drive job creation today, and more than 85 percent of the bank’s transactions directly support small businesses. In New York last year, of the 271 exporters that received assistance from the Ex-Im Bank, 163 were small businesses, including many in Western New York.
Collins and his colleagues who are fighting to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank before its charter expires at the end of September understand that in our fragile economy, the last thing Washington should be doing is making a tough situation even worse.
They also understand that we must continue to confront the mountains of debt that years of irresponsible spending have left current and future generations. That’s why in the incredibly tight budget climate of Washington today, the Ex-Im Bank is an even more powerful tool because it costs taxpayers nothing. The bank generates enough fees to not only offset its costs but it has actually contributed billions in surpluses to the U.S. Treasury, which have been used to help pay down our debt.
Equally important, it has an almost 80-year track record of making investments in American companies and helping to create and support millions of American jobs.
At a time when Congress is struggling to show the American people that it can work, it can start to regain their trust by coming together and reauthorizing this important institution.
Steve LaTourette, who represented Ohio’s 19th and 14th congressional districts in the U.S. House from 1995 to 2013, is president of Main Street Partnership.