Mainstream and liberal reporters think they have conservative nominee Scott Garrett in a contradiction or a flip-flop.
You see, when Garrett was a congressman from Northern New Jersey, he consistently and vocally opposed the Export-Import Bank, despite having a large constituency of wealthy bankers, who are among the biggest beneficiaries of Ex-Im's subsidies.
Now Garrett is President Trump's nominee to head the Export-Import Bank. In the eyes of Ex-Im's beneficiaries, including the manufacturers lobby, this is some grave contradiction. When Garrett said it wasn't today in his hearing, reporters almost all interpreted him as flip-flopping.
Huffington Post gave a wry headline to this story by liberal reporter Amanda Terkel:
Trump Nominee Wants To Keep Agency Now That He’d Get Paid To Run ItAs a congressman, Scott Garrett wanted to kill the Export-Import Bank. All of a sudden, he’s fine with it.
Read the quotes closely, though, and never does Garrett contradict himself or his old self.
1) Garrett repeatedly refused to renounce his efforts as a congressman to abolish the Export-Import Bank.
2) Garrett said "If I am confirmed, the Export-Import Bank will continue to fully operate, point-blank."
There's a very simple explanation here: Whether Ex-Im should exist is a question for Congress. When in that position, Garrett used his power to try to end it. The executive branch is supposed to execute the acts of Congress. Sadly, Garrett lost, and Ex-Im was authorized for a few years. Garrett, if placed in the executive branch, will execute the law and administer the agency.
This is a totally normal mindset for conservatives who believe in the rule of law and in handling problems through designated channels.
In fact, I think more federal agencies should be headed by public servants who are skeptical that they should even exist.
First, a rule barring such agency heads is a sort of de facto bar on conservative agency heads, and that would be bad.
Second, a faithful skeptic would have a better eye for rooting out the ways in which an agency's practices may be wasteful or even undermine its own aims. Such a skeptic is also, in the case of a corporate-welfare agency like Ex-Im, far less likely to be captured by the special interests he or she is supposed to support.
Ex-Im shouldn't exist. If it does exist, it should be run by Scott Garrett who will be able to reform it and possibly transform it from a corporate welfare agency to one actually focused on helping small businesses expand into new markets.
Garrett likely believes neither corporate welfare nor small-business-exporter welfare is a valid role for government, but most of Congress disagrees with him. It's not a contradiction for him, when given a new job, to have a new sense of his duties and objectives.