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Increasing American Jobs Through Greater Exports to Africa

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. TOOMEY. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, I wish to make just a couple observations and explain why I am going to object.

First, for the record to be clear, it is my understanding this measure--and there is no question the Senator from Illinois has put a great deal of work into this. All his motives are absolutely commendable and legitimate. The measure itself, I believe, has not gone through a markup in the Banking Committee. There are many Members who have serious concerns about this particular bill for which the unanimous consent request is being made.

More broadly, about the Ex-Im Bank--in fact, I would argue this bill and this unanimous consent request puts a light on one of the concerns many of us have with the Ex-Im Bank in the first place. Let's remember what the Ex-Im Bank is. This is a taxpayer subsidy for large corporations to export products. I am a big fan of trade. I am a big fan of exports. I am not a fan of taxpayers having to subsidize the activity, and some of us, myself very much included, believe it ought to be a very high priority of this and any other administration to work for the mutual end of these taxpayer-subsidized export vehicles all around the world. They exist in other places as well, and that is the excuse that is usually given for why we have to also subsidize our corporations on their exports. I don't think that is a very good argument. I would certainly prefer to see a broad curtailment and eventually the end of this process; whereby, Europeans and Asians and Americans all engage in this flawed policy of subsidizing their respective corporations' export efforts.

Here is what happens with this bill, and this is exactly the kind of thing that happens when the government sets up a political venture to engage in economic activity. It gets politicized. Someone comes along with perfectly good motives and good intentions and decides there is some category of activity that is more important than other categories of activity. In this case, it is a geographical prioritization that the Senator from Illinois wishes to make by requiring a certain amount of business be transacted in Africa. I suspect there are people in this body and in other places who would make similarly persuasive arguments that there are places in Asia that ought to get this special treatment which the Senator from Illinois is recommending, and there are other people who would suggest maybe it shouldn't be a geographically based preference, but it ought to be a product line-based preference or it ought to be driven by the number of American workers who are involved in whatever it is that is being exported.

I can imagine all kinds of export criteria by which political forces could decide that the Ex-Im Bank ought to have special treatment in special categories, all of which simply distorts the normal market activities that would actually optimize exports, economic growth, and job creation.

So despite all the good intentions and the hard work done by the Senator from Illinois, I think this specific policy would be a mistake. More broadly, I think we are not yet on the right path of curtailing the taxpayer obligation for these export subsidies.

For that reason, I object.


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