I probably should have held on to a bit more of my innate cynicism following the swearing-in of the 45th president. Coming from a business background as he does, plenty of conservatives were rightly nervous about some of the potential big government tendencies which Donald Trump might exhibit upon taking office. If the latest rumors are true, some of those fears may be coming to fruition in the next few weeks. After a long and ultimately successful battle by conservatives, the Export-Import Bank was essentially placed on life support last year. The institution still exists, but lacking a sufficient number of members to achieve a quorum it has been powerless to do much of anything of late.
All that may be about to change. The word on the hill is that Donald Trump has been listening to some voices among the Democrats and has been “convinced” that the bank should resume operations. (Government Executive)
Long criticized by Republicans as an agency dispensing “corporate welfare,” the Export-Import Bank on Thursday got some good news after two senators reported that President Trump is abandoning his campaign-trail position that the bank must die.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., announced that Trump “agreed with her on the need to get the Export-Import Bank up and running and said he will soon nominate someone to serve on the Export-Import Bank Board.”
The five-member board has been below quorum for a year because former Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., had blocked consideration of all of President Obama’s nominees to the bank.
You may recall that on the campaign trail Donald Trump stated unequivocally that he was an opponent of the bank’s continued operation. And that wasn’t just a campaign promise made to win votes. As recently as December he was still saying that the banks days were probably numbered. So why the change now?
As you might have been able to guess, Boeing likely played a large part in the decision. Current reports indicate that Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp was whispering in Trump’s ear but he was also in talks with executives from Boeing. As we’ve long known, the airline giant is one of the largest beneficiaries of the bank’s peculiar form of corporate welfare. Coming from a big business background and being used to making deals of this magnitude, we probably shouldn’t be terribly surprised if Boeing found someone able to speak a common language with the president and convince him that the art of the deal should go their way this time.
While perhaps not the end of the world this is still seriously disappointing. But at the same time, let’s be honest here. Nobody in conservative circles was 100% convinced that a run for the presidency was suddenly going to take one of the most successful capitalists in the country and completely convert him to the frequently difficult doctrine of fiscal conservatism. As I’ve said ever since he won the nomination, if Trump were to take office we would be getting a significantly better deal than anything we could’ve expected from Hillary Clinton. But at the same time, there were going to be disappointments. The most we can do now is try to cheer on the president when he brings some victories across the finish line and hope that Congress will rein him in when he wanders astray in this fashion. In this case it wouldn’t take much. We managed to block Obama’s nominees to the Ex-Im board and the same could be done to Trump. It would be politically embarrassing, but the White House is no stranger to that feeling at this point.