Former House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt and former Republican National Committee boss Haley Barbour are the two lobbyists on the "Dream Team" K Street has assembled to save President Obama's favorite tool for subsidizing manufacturers -- the Export-Import Bank of the United States.
On a conference call today, National Association of Manufacturers President Jay Timmons touted his "Dream Team of advocates": Gephardt, Barbour, and Republican communications specialist Tony Fratto.
"Dick Gephardt is a master of the House. Haley Barbour is a master of putting together coalitions," Timmons said. Both men are registered lobbyists and fundraisers for their respective parties.
Two years ago, the Chamber of Commerce played the key role in convincing most Republicans to support the agency, and Ex-Im President Fred Hochberg gave Donahue the "Chairman's Award," to thank him for his lobbying efforts.
Donahue on Monday said, "Business owners are perplexed by the inside-the-Beltway campaign against Ex-Im. ... They don't understand why Washington is threatening to let the bank's charter lapse. And frankly, neither do we."
Donahue charged Ex-Im's opponents with taking the matter lightly. "It's not going to be as cute as everybody thinks," if the agency disappears. Timmons and Donahue mostly argued that Ex-Im is necessary because other nations subsidize their exports. "The United States simply can't afford to unilaterally disarm," Timmons said.
Donahue said the lobbying effort would involve calling on Ex-Im subsidy recipients to contact lawmakers in their home district. "This is gonna be done back home where they live," Donahue said.