WATCH: Would Ronald Reagan Have Supported the Export-Import Bank?
In an attempt to appeal to a broader swath of Americans — especially conservatives — proponents of reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank are invoking Ronald Reagan’s support of the Bank while he was president. Specifically, they cite a letter Reagan signed praising the Bank on its 50th anniversary.
But are assertions that Reagan was a wholehearted backer of the Bank true?
Veronique De Rugy says there is a lot more to the picture, and, based on remarks he made before and after the 1984 letter, she conjectures that his 1984 letter may have been driven by politics.
Reagan’s policies also indicate he was not as big a fan of the Ex-Im Bank as some today suggest. For example, his administration cut that Bank’s budget by 40 percent, under the direction of budget director David Stockman.
In 1981 Reagan remarked:
We’re asking that another major industry–business subsidy I should say, the Export-Import Bank loan authority, be reduced by one-third in 1982. We’re doing this because the primary beneficiaries of taxpayer funds in this case are the exporting companies themselves–most of them profitable corporations.
In 1985, he asked, “Is it fair to ask taxpayers to help pay billions for export subsidies to a handful of America’s biggest corporations?” He continued, “We’ll also save billions by eliminating taxpayer subsidies to some of America’s biggest corporations through Export-Import Bank loans.”
Below is a video of Reagan calling on Congress to cut the Ex-Im Bank in 1981 and explaining that it was profitable corporations, not taxpayers, were the primary beneficiaries of the Bank’s activities. That fact remains the same today.