Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Export-Import Director Says Credit Agency Plays Key Role Bank under Fire from Conservative Republicans

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Export-Import Director Says Credit Agency Plays Key Role Bank under Fire from Conservative Republicans

Article excerpt

Failure to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank would amount to "unilaterally disarming" U.S. economic policy at a time when foreign governments use credit subsidies to boost their exports, a director of the federal agency said.

Sean Mulvaney, appointed to the board in 2011 by President Barack Obama, said the financing, insurance and guarantees that the bank provides support companies such as Boeing, whose primary competitor, Airbus, receives similar assistance from European governments.

"We've leveled the playing field for them," Mr. Mulvaney said in an interview this week.

He was in Pittsburgh for a Wednesday seminar sponsored by Duquesne University's Small Business Development Center.

The bank, which provided $27.3 billion in assistance in the fiscal year that ended last September, is under fire from conservative Republicans.

They say the bank supplies corporate welfare to a handful of big companies and big banks. They also say shortcomings in the bank's risk management practices identified last year by the Government Accountability Office and a sharp jump in the amount of credit issued by the bank since the recession could cost taxpayers should companies that received assistance default.

The opposition could put the bank out of business after Sept. 30, when the government fiscal year ends and congressional authority for the program expires. Mr. Obama has proposed extending the agency for another five years and raising the cap on the size of its portfolio to $160 billion from $140 billion.

Some of the agency's most vocal critics are members of the House Financial Services Committee, the panel that must approve the bank's reauthorization. They cite a GAO report that the program does little to create jobs and has failed to provide 20 percent of its assistance to small business as required by Congress.

In the comparable panel in the Senate, Banking Committee member Pat Toomey, R-Pa. …

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