Hillary Clinton is angry that conservatives are even debating the Export-Import Bank. She says, "I'd like to put Ex-Im Bank on steroids."
Given what we know about Mrs. Clinton's business model, her undying love for Ex-Im tells us something about the agency. Why would she be dedicated to saving and expanding Ex-Im?
The answer: Any tool that increases Washington's involvement in big business — here and abroad — creates opportunities for politicians to demand tribute from corporate and government coffers and increase political control over business. Ex-Im is a goldmine for a transactional politician like Hillary.
This isn't a theory, or merely a prediction of the future. Study Ex-Im's recent history. Look at its deals, its staff, and its revolving-door alumni, and you see it.
Some Republicans, persuaded by K Street, think of Ex-Im as a friend of business. The should instead see Ex-Im for what it really is: The International Bank of Clinton.
Starting at the top: Ex-Im President Fred Hochberg was a President Bill Clinton appointee. He and his mother stayed in the White House (she got the Lincoln bedroom). Hochberg in 2008 was a "Hillraiser" — an elite class of bundlers who raised six figures for her failed presidential bid. Hochberg is also a five-figure donor to the Clinton Foundation.
The Clinton-Ex-Im revolving door is well used, as Bill Clinton acknowledged at the 2012 Ex-Im conference. "This audience is full of people who once worked for me," Clinton said, naming a handful of Clinton White House alumni who now worked at — or profited from — Ex-Im.
Clinton particularly praised Kevin Varney, who worked in the Clinton White House, then at Ex-Im. Now Varney is at Boeing, the top recipient of Ex-Im financing, along with Tim Keating — another old White House appointee that Bubba mentioned from the stage.
The Madeleine Albright connection runs deep. Albright, Bill Clinton's secretary of state, now runs a consulting firm, Albright Stonebridge. Her daughter Alice was COO of Ex-Im from 2009 through 2013. In those years, Siemens — an Albright Stonebridge client — benefited from $772 million in Ex-Im financing. Plenty of Albright Stonebridge employees have also been employees or advisors of Ex-Im.
Goldman Sachs is part of this story, too. In the summer of 2011, Goldman Sachs hired a K Street firm to lobby the State Department on Ex-Im. That fall, Ex-Im approved a $75.8 million loan to a state-owned Chinese bank so it could buy private jets from Hawker Beechcraft, a jetmaker owned largely by Goldman at the time. Secretary Clinton at that time praised her deputy, former Goldman vice president Robert Hormats, for "coordinating with the Export-Import Bank," on international trade and development issues.
This work by Ex-Im and State followed, by a couple of months, a $200,000 speaking fee Goldman had paid to Bill Clinton, as reported by the International Business Times.
But ultimately, Ex-Im is Boeing's Bank. Approximately 40 percent of the bank's financing in recent years has gone to subsidize Boeing exports. Clinton has been a Boeing saleswoman in her global travels, often using Ex-Im as a tool. Boeing, for its part, has contributed to the Clinton Foundation.
Despite this cozy friendship, Hochberg says "We don't lend a single penny to Boeing." This is technically true. Ex-Im instead extends its taxpayer-backed financing to its customers — foreign governments and companies who in turn buy U.S. goods.
Those foreign recipients of Ex-Im aid, it turns out, are also very tight with the Clintons. Citing work by the Mercatus Center's Veronique de Rugy, Lachlan Markay of the Free Beacon reported: "The top foreign beneficiary is state-owned Mexican oil company Pemex, a Clinton Foundation donor. Second on the list is Emirates Airline, the state-owned airline of the United Arab Emirates, a seven-figure donor."
It makes perfect sense, then, for Hillary Clinton to support Ex-Im. Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, put it well: "Hillary Clinton is a natural cheerleader for the Export-Import Bank. After all, Ex-Im's biggest beneficiaries are foreign governments and giant corporations. Conveniently, these just happen to be among the biggest donors to the Clinton Foundation as well as major underwriters of the speaking fees that added millions of dollars to the Clinton bank account."
Republicans considering Ex-Im's reauthorization this month should look at it this way: Empowering government to ladle out subsidies to companies empowers the big-government politicians to extract money — and policy concessions — from business.
In other words, reauthorizing Ex-Im puts the ball in Hillary's court — not to mention money in her pockets.Timothy P. Carney, The Washington Examiner's senior political columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears Sunday and Wednesday on washingtonexaminer.com.