SEN. HARRY REID: I’m not singling out the Republican Leader or the Banking Committee Chairman – many other Senate Republicans have flipped a 180 so quickly on this issue that it must have made their heads spin. To understand the Republican change of position, one need only look at the Koch brothers, their billionaire benefactors.
Charles and David Koch adamantly oppose the Export-Import Bank. Or, I should say, they do now. They weren’t always anti Ex-Im. Just like most other businesses in America, Koch Industries is always looking for new markets for its goods. That means exports, and the Koch brothers are all for exports. How could they not be? After all, the Koch business got its start by selling its services to Joseph Stalin and the U.S.S.R.
But more recently, Koch Industries and its subsidiaries have used the Export-Import Bank to find an international marketplace for their goods. The Hill newspaper reported yesterday that Koch companies Georgia-Pacific, John Zink, Molex, and Koch Heat Transfer received over $16 million in loans from the Ex-Im Bank. That’s what the Bank was intended for. That $16 million in assistance has helped sustain American jobs. But it is stunningly hypocritical that the same Koch brothers, who are using the bank for loans they could literally write a check for, are attacking it as a corporate give away.
This reminds me of the time the Kochs attacked Obamacare as “collectivism” while collecting health subsidies through the Affordable Care Act.
Now, after benefitting from the Export-Import bank, the Koch brothers are labeling it ‘corporate welfare’ and ‘a handout for big business.’ I wonder if Charles and David got whiplash from their extreme turnaround. The Kochs’ main political arm, Americans for Prosperity, is now leading an all-out assault on the bank. It is going to great lengths to pressure Republicans into letting the bank’s charter lapse.
It’s one thing for a couple of oil baron billionaires to oppose a program for their own financial purposes. It’s an entirely different thing for the governing Republicans in Congress to do the Kochs’ bidding. Republicans were for the Export-Import Bank until the Kochs’ were against it. Now, Republicans can’t distance themselves from it fast enough.
One conservative news outlet run by the Heritage Foundation went so far as to report that Republican presidential hopefuls have to reject the Export-Import Bank if they want the Kochs’ endorsement and financial backing. The Daily Signal reports that: “An endorsement likely would turn on a candidate’s approach to one or more issues of importance to the Koch brothers, beginning with their opposition to the federal Export-Import Bank.”
You can’t make this stuff up. It would be tragic if the Export-Import Bank wasn’t reauthorized because some Republicans with White House ambitions are more interested in auditioning for the Koch brothers.
The Republican Leader and his colleagues have completely altered their position on a program that supports 165,000 American jobs – many in their own states. Republicans have changed their opinion on a bank that has returned $7 billion to the U.S. Treasury. It’s a flip that would make a trapeze artist cringe.
I say to my Republican friends: just because the Kochs tell you to jump, you don’t have to ask “how high?”
We haven’t much time. The Export-Import Bank’s charter expires at the end of the month. Last night’s vote proves that there is support in this chamber to reauthorize Ex-Im. 65 Senators voted in support of the bank.
I urge Senate Republicans to put aside this nonsensical backtracking on a program that they themselves admitted was a job creator.