Conservatives just can’t win with The New York Times. Usually the critique from the left-leaning Times is that conservatives want to cut spending too much and are draconian in our efforts to reduce the size of government. But, in a weird defense of its support for the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, the Times argued in a June editorial that conservatives should leave it alone and go after bigger fish.
Expressing their view, the Times editorial board wrote:
“A truly serious crackdown on corporate welfare would involve eliminating corporate tax breaks and wasteful subsidies. But this is not a direction many in the Tea Party want to go in; the bank is a far smaller and easier target than the tax code or the farm lobby.”
And, besides, “the bank is actually a very poor symbol of corporate welfare,” adds the Times.
First, conservatives have gone after the farm lobby. In the past year, The Heritage Foundation alone posted over 50 articles and research papers decrying the farm bill. Heritage made many of the same arguments against it that it is making today against the Export-Import Bank.
Both these programs are government subsidies disguised as programs helping small family farms and small business owners. But the reality is that the majority of dollars under the farm bill go to wealthy farmers and businesses and the majority of dollars loaned through Ex-Im go to big corporations like Boeing and John Deere, not the folks running businesses on main street.
Heritage expert Diane Katz noted this about the Farm Bill back in May of 2013:
“The USDA’s Economic Research Service reports that two-thirds of the farms with income exceeding $1 million annually received government payments averaging $54,745 in 2011. Meanwhile, just 27 percent of farms with income of less than $100,000 received payments—averaging just $4,420 in 2011.”
And she made a very similar argument about the Export-Import Bank in April:
“Multinational corporations attract the largest proportion of Ex–Im financing… In the past five years, [Boeing] has profited from 197 Ex–Im deals totaling $48 billion. Last year alone, Boeing-related financing comprised 30 percent of all Ex–Im activity.”
In both cases, Big Business is the big winner.
Second, to the Times charge that the Ex-Im Bank doesn’t really meet the corporate welfare test, perhaps the editors should look up the definition of corporate welfare.
Here’s how three credible sources define it:
“Financial assistance, as tax breaks or subsidies, given by the government to profit-making companies, especially large corporations.” — Dictionary.com
“Government support or subsidy of private business…” — Oxford Dictionary:
“The term is often used to describe a government’s bestowal of money grants, tax breaks, or other special favorable treatment on corporations or selected corporations, and implies that corporations are much less needy of such treatment than the poor. In practice, the term is often used virtually interchangeably with crony capitalism.” — Wikipeida.org
Just because the Export-Import Bank isn’t the biggest example of corporate welfare in Washington doesn’t mean it’s not corporate welfare.
Perhaps what the Times and others supporting the reauthorization of Ex-Im are really concerned about is that if conservatives are successful in eliminating Ex-Im, the really big fish are also no longer swimming in safe waters.