Economic populism is an ill-fitting boot for Rick Perry. The former Texas governor came out against the Export-Import Bank Tuesday, but hedged his bets on corporate welfare in general.
Perry explained his position in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, saying that while he still supports the underlying concept of Ex-Im, recent reports of corruption at the bank have led him to conclude that, “the best way to mend Ex-Im is to end it.”
A potential contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, Perry seemingly sought to stake out a middle ground on the controversial Ex-Im issue. The bank’s charter is set to expire on June 30 unless Congress acts to reauthorize it before then.
Supporters claim that Ex-Im supports jobs and helps drive economic growth by providing financing that the private sector will not. Opponents, though — including most GOP presidential candidates — maintain that the bank is merely a corporate welfare slush fund, primarily benefiting large corporations like Boeing, GE, and Caterpillar.
While touting the 1.5 million jobs created in Texas between 2007 and 2014, during his tenure as governor, Perry credits Ex-Im for helping the state to become the nation’s leading exporter. “Since 2007, more than 1,200 Texas companies have obtained help from Ex-Im in financing more than $24 billion in exports,” he notes.
Perry concedes that as recently as June 2014, he was in favor of reauthorizing the bank’s charter, believing that “shutting down the Ex-Im Bank would mean unilaterally disarming in a fight that Europe and China intend to win.”
However, recent revelations of corruption at the bank — following the guilty plea of a former loan officer on 19 counts of accepting bribes, Ex-Im’s Inspector General informed Congress in April that there are 31 corruption and fraud investigations pending — have convinced him that the bank must be shut down.
Perry goes on to assert that shutting down Ex-Im is a prerequisite for enacting the entitlement and corporate tax reforms needed to jump-start America’s sluggish economic growth.
“We won’t have the moral credibility to reduce corporate taxes if we continue to subsidize corporate exports for corporations that already enjoy low effective tax rates, like General Electric and Boeing,” Perry writes. “We won’t have the moral credibility to reform government programs that benefit future retirees if we don’t first reform government programs that benefit big businesses like Caterpillar.”
“If we want to bring Texas’ prosperity to the nation as a whole,” Perry concludes, “we’ll have to do a lot more than terminate Ex-Im. But that’s where we should begin.”
This report, by Peter Fricke, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.