Draining the Swamp Starts with Ex-Im

One of Donald Trump’s signature promises during his successful campaign for the presidency was to drain the swamp–that unholy union of lobbyists and influence peddlers that has basically turned Congress into a favor factory for the well-heeled and the well-connected.  That’s why it’s a bit disturbing to read a story like this in The Politico:

President Donald Trump and several key senators privately discussed immigration reform at the White House on Thursday — with one lawmaker recounting that Trump said he was open to the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” overhaul the Senate passed in 2013 but ultimately died in the House. A pair of Democrats also said Trump was supportive of fully reviving the Export-Import Bank, which is loathed by conservatives.

Granted, there are two big grains of salt to be taken here:  1) The story comes from The Politico, and 2) Democrats are the source of its claims.  It can safely be said that when it comes to Donald J. Trump, neither of them have his best interests at heart.  If there is, however, a grain of truth among all that salt, then a clear message needs to be sent to the White House:

What the hell are you thinking?

Now I’m not terribly concerned that there’s much to the immigration rumor, as real immigration reform was the foremost reason that Trump won last November.  Going wobbly would outrage his supporters like nothing else–and if it’s one thing Trump knows, it’s his audience.  If he really was amenable to Democrats on the issue, I imagine it was simply a negotiating tactic meant to coax them to the table.

This Ex-Im Bank, business, though–that could be something else.  Although Trump expressed disdain for the bank during the campaign, it didn’t exactly have the same resonance as “Lock her up!” at all those rallies.  In fact, very few people outside of the Beltway even know what the Ex-Im Bank is, much less why it would be a betrayal if the Trump administration decided to revive it.

Because “Drain the swamp!” was a big rallying cry for Trump fans.  And the Ex-Im Bank is a big part of the DC swamp.

That’s why Congress would love to bring it back.  For those who aren’t familiar with how that particular machine works, it goes something like this:  The Republic of Kerplunkistan wants to modernize its fleet of aging aircraft, but it can’t afford to borrow money at market rates to finance the deal.  Boeing, however, wants the contract really bad, because it means billions of bucks in its coffers.  So what do they do?  Kerplunkistan goes to the Ex-Im Bank, which gives it a sweetheart loan or a loan guarantee at near-zero interest so the deal can go through.  That makes Boeing very happy–and when Boeing is happy, it donates money to the campaigns of those Congressmen who keep the loans going.

And here’s the best part.  If Kerplunkistan defaults on the loan, the taxpayers get to pick up the tab!

If this sounds like corporate welfare, that’s because it is.  Ex-Im is a blight, a disgrace, a boil on the rear-end of the free market.  As such, the Trump Administration should see to it that a stake is driven through its heart, post-haste.  It’s the best possible for the president to way to show America that he meant what he said about draining the swamp.

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Marc Giller

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