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Public Statements

Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PAUL. Mr. President, I rise today in opposition to corporate welfare. At a time when our country is borrowing over $1 trillion a year, I think it makes no senses to loan money to countries we are borrowing from. For example, we borrowed $29 billion from Mexico, and yet we are sending them $8 billion of the money we borrowed from them to subsidize trade.

A lot of the subsidized trade goes to very wealthy corporations. When 12 million people are out of work in the United States, does it make sense for the U.S. taxpayer to subsidize loans of major multinational corporations? The President is big on saying, well, these rich companies need to pay their fair share. Well, why then is the President sending loans out to these very wealthy corporations? And he is actually giving them their fair share of our taxpayer money. Why is that occurring?

I have often asked the question, Is government inherently stupid? Well, you know, I don't think government is inherently stupid, but it is a debatable question. Government doesn't get the same signals your local bank gets. Your local bank has to look at your creditworthiness. Your local bank has to make a profit. Your local bank has to meet a payroll. But once the government gets in charge of these things, Katy-bar-the-door. We don't have a good track record with government banks because they do not feel deep inside the same pain that an individual banker feels when he gives a loan.

We have Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac losing $6 billion of your money a quarter. And what do they want to do? They want to expand another government bank. So get this right. The Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that are government banks are losing $6 billion a quarter, and recently they wanted to give their executives multimillion dollar bonuses. They said, Well, you have to pay people if you want to keep good talent. My question is, How much talent does it take to lose $6 billion a quarter? I think there are people here today watching the Senate who would take $19 million a year to run one of these government banks only to have their record be that they lost $6 billion a quarter. That is outrageous. Then wanting to expand a new government bank and give money to very wealthy corporations that are making a profit? It makes no sense whatsoever.

Jefferson said government is best that governs least. What did he mean by that? He meant he wanted government to be small because government is inherently inefficient. Government doesn't get the same signals. That is why we should only let government do the things the private sector can't do. Banking is something the private sector can do. We are not talking about starting new companies, for the most part; we are mostly talking about subsidizing very wealthy multinational companies.

But let's look at the companies the Export-Import Bank is subsidizing. One of them is called First Solar. You may have heard that a lot of these solar companies are big contributors to President Obama. I wonder if that has something to do with them getting loans. But here is the loan First Solar gets from Export-Import. They get paid and they have a loan that says they are going to make solar panels, and then who is going to buy the solar panels? Themselves. So they made a deal with another company they own and the taxpayer is stuck financing a loan so First Solar can make solar panels and then buy them from themselves. That sounds like a good deal. You get the government to subsidize a loan to buy your own product.

Who else are we subsidizing? We gave $10 million in loans to Solyndra. You may have heard of Solyndra. Solyndra is owned by the 20th richest man in the United States, who just happens to be a big contributor to President Obama. Coincidence? I don't know.

Guess who works for the Department of Energy. Solyndra's lawyer's husband works for the Department of Energy, and he was apparently a big fan of these loans and a big fan of restructuring these loans. Do you think people approving the loans should be related to the people getting the loans?

Robert Kennedy, Jr., of the famous Kennedy family, got $1.8 billion. Just so happens they are big political supporters of the President also. How did they get the loan? Somebody who used to work for Kennedy now works in the loan department at the Department of Energy. Sounds as though there might be a conflict of interest.

This is a real problem. But this is a problem that is endemic to government banks. Once you let the government get hold of the banks, and once you let them make the loan decisions, they do it and they give the money to their favorites. So when one party is in charge, their favorites get them; when the other party is in charge, their favorites get them.

The government shouldn't be in this business. These are large multinational corporations that can find loans for themselves. Guess what. Sometimes they are loaning money to other governments that then compete with our industry. We are loaning money to India, to whom we also owe billions of dollars, but then India subsidizes an airline that competes with U.S. airlines. It doesn't make any sense at all. But we continue to do things that are counterproductive, counterintuitive, at taxpayers' expense. Then we say, well, to keep good talent, we have to pay these guys millions of dollars to run these government banks.

The problem is government banks don't respond the way business does. They respond in a fashion where they do not feel the pain. No one loses their job. No one loses a night's sleep over a government loan. When a bank loans you money, someone has to make a profit and meet a payroll. It is different. You have the checks and balances of the marketplace. You don't need to have the government involved here.

There are a couple questions we should ask before doing what the other side wants to do. They want to expand the size of this corporate welfare. They want more corporate welfare going out to multinational corporations. In doing so, they want you, the taxpayer, to be on the hook for more money.

I would say we have to ask some questions. Should we be dispensing loans based on political favoritism? Should it matter if one is a big contributor to the President? Should that matter in getting a loan? No. I think that ought to be illegal. If it is not immoral, it ought to be. It is immoral. It should be illegal. We shouldn't be doing that.

Then the other question is, does it make sense to borrow billions of dollars first from China or India and then send it back to them to say: Please, buy our products with it. So we borrow the money from them, and then we send it back to the very same countries. It makes utterly no sense. I ask the Senate to consider seriously whether, at a time we are running a $1 trillion deficit, it makes sense to be subsidizing profitable, large multinational corporations. I don't think so, and I don't think the taxpayer thinks so.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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