Fred Hochberg and the Ex-Im Bank (again)

Almost exactly one year ago this weekend we were talking about the controversial decision to renew the charter of the United States Export Import Bank (Ex-Im). This slush fund serves as a hotbed for intrusive government busybodies, sweetheart deals for cronies and the thumb of the government on the scale of commerce. Still, when we had the chance to let it simply expire, it was renewed until 2014. And now the bank’s Chairman, Fred Hochberg, is up for a renewal of his contract by the Senate. But will the members of the upper chamber ask Hochberg any of the tough questions which deserve to be examined?

Why is Hochberg’s organization approving loans for companies now owned by the Chinese?

The U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) is financing the purchase of solar panels from a manufacturer now owned by the Chinese that had previously attracted investments from prominent Democrats, the bank announced Wednesday.

The response from an Ex-Im spokesperson? “‘The ownership of the company is not relevant to the decision to approve financing…”

If Ex-Im is supposed to be helping grow American companies and assist them in expanding into overseas markets, why is almost all the money going to a single company? Of $14.7 billion in loan guarantees for 2012, $12.2 billion went to subsidize Boeing sales. Granted, Boeing does a lot of exporting, but aren’t there a lot more companies who could use some help competing in other markets? If that’s all Ex-Im is going to do, maybe the government should just set up a new law specifically to bail out Boeing.

There are plenty more questions which could – and should – be asked. So will the Senate do their job and grill this guy and find out where all this money is going, or will he just get a free pass again? The hearings will take place on Tuesday, so tune in and find out.

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