Heidi Heitkamp Backs Crony Capitalism


Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s office has sent out press release expressing support for the US Import-Export Bank.

“Only special interests in Washington, D.C. could spin a story of an agency that has supported $456 billion in U.S. exports – at no cost to the taxpayer – into a bad thing,” Heitkamp says in the press release. “North Dakota businesses – particularly small businesses – have been incredibly successful in exporting their high-quality products to the international market and stand ready to export even more while supporting jobs in our communities. Amity Technology in Fargo is just example of how the Export-Import Bank helps businesses grow. Now is the time to support a program that has a proven record of boosting our economy and providing good-paying jobs.”

What exactly is the Import-Export bank? It’s an agency created by the federal government to subsidize US businesses engaged in international trade. Basically, it picks and chooses winners and losers in the international trade arena. It hurts US businesses. It provides corporate welfare for politically-connected businesses. It politicizes the economy.

In other words, it’s rank crony capitalism, and it’s also under investigation for corruption:

The U.S. Export-Import Bank has suspended or removed four officials in recent months amid investigations into allegations of gifts and kickbacks, as well as attempts to steer federal contracts to favored companies, several people familiar with the matter said.

One employee, Johnny Gutierrez, an official in the short-term trade finance division, allegedly accepted cash payments in exchange for trying to help a Florida company obtain U.S. government financing to export construction equipment to Latin America, according to a person familiar with the inquiry. Mr. Gutierrez was escorted from the Ex-Im Bank building in April, said two people familiar with the matter. …

The Ex-Im Bank hasn’t disclosed information about the investigations, and declined to comment on Mr. Gutierrez’s status, citing privacy laws. Matt Bevens, a spokesman for the agency, said that “the Export-Import Bank takes extremely seriously its commitment to taxpayers and its mission to support U.S. jobs.”

Heitkamp says that the Import-Export bank has no cost to the taxpayers, but obviously it does. The bank has a distorting impact on the import/export market, and that has cost for the taxpayers.

And I should note that Senator Hoeven has, at least in the past, supported the Import-Export Bank. He voted to reauthorize the bank in 2012.