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Mr. DeMINT. Mr. President, I would like to speak in support of Senator Toomey's amendment and to point out some of the things about the Ex-Im Bank that are important for the taxpayers to know.
As a businessman I know if I can get a guaranteed loan, I would take it in a second. I don't blame companies that are interested in lower rate financing. But as Congressmen and Senators and as the President of the United States, our job is to protect taxpayers. We are forgetting in this debate that when we guarantee a loan, we are signing the taxpayers' names to a loan guarantee. In the real world if an individual or a business guarantees a loan, that is a very real liability to them, and we are not just talking about the Ex-Im Bank.
The taxpayers of this country are now liable for about $1 trillion for student loans, trillions of dollars for mortgages and other loan guarantees and insurance.
We cannot continue to pass these bills without realizing someday these bills are going to come due and the folks across the country are going to have to pay them.
We were promised, when Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were making all these loans, that it was good for the taxpayer, that we were making money, we could not lose. But the taxpayers have lost billions of dollars. And now as we continue to guarantee loans around the world, some of the countries these loans are going to are on the watch list by Moody's and other ratings services because of the financial situation in Europe and all across the world, which is more and more strained. We cannot assume this money is coming back to the taxpayer.
We probably heard already from some of the speakers that the Export-Import Bank was started many decades ago during Franklin Roosevelt's administration, and there was a limit on how much could be lent. It was $3.5 billion. But we know how government works and how government grows. The bill we are considering this week is not in the millions; it is in the billions; and it is not $3 billion or $4 billion, it is $140 billion of loan guarantees to American companies that are selling overseas.
Unfortunately, that does not help American companies that want to sell here in America, which means much of the domestic market for our products is financed at a higher rate. It is only the rest of the world. And we are the biggest consuming market in the world. This is not an idea we should continue in America. We are in a bidding war with China and Europe to see who can subsidize the most loans at a time when all of us are broke.
We need to bring this to a close. Senator Toomey's amendment is a logical way to proceed. The World Trade Organization is set up to make sure there is a level playing field and that we are not subsidizing imports and exports. But this is a very real subsidy and a very real risk to the American people.
Let's begin the process of taking away this excuse of why we need to subsidize them. The excuse is always: We have to do it because they are doing it. But as a world trading organization, we need to take down these subsidies and phase them out. We can do that and decrease the amount of money the American taxpayer is liable for. It is common sense. Hopefully, my colleagues will support it today.
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