President Trump announced on Friday that he will nominate former Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) as President and Chairman of the Export-Import Bank.
The Ex-Im Bank subsidizes the financing of U.S. exports, and has been criticized by free market organizations for benefiting special interests such as Boeing and General Electric.
During his time in Congress, Garrett was well respected as a fiscal conservative, boasting a 95% lifetime score from the Club for Growth, despite serving in a fairly moderate district in the New York City metropolitan area. He was a member of the Freedom Caucus and the Liberty Caucus, as well as a long-time associate of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX). Garrett ultimately lost his seat during the 2016 election, but was later said to have been considered for a position within the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
While most proponents of limited government were dismayed by Trump’s decision to renege on his campaign promise to abolish the Ex-Im Bank, Garrett’s appointment may well be the next best alternative. While on the hill, Garrett was a staunch opponent of the bank, voting against reauthorizing it in October 2015 and stating the following:
“It’s hard to imagine anything more unfair and un-American than having the government financially support mega-corporations at the expense of small businesses and American workers.
“But that is exactly what has been happening, and it will continue to happen if we don’t let the Export-Import Bank expire next month. It rewards those with close relationships with Washington bureaucrats and makes victims of startups that dare to compete against them—literally picking winners and losers in our economy.
“Ex-Im has transformed the role of government from a disinterested referee that guarantees a free and open marketplace into a biased actor that tilts the scales in favor of its friends in businesses. We have the opportunity to save capitalism from cronyism and to fulfill a promise to the American people to work for them instead of a select few with special connections in Washington. For the sake of the American taxpayer and the preservation of the free enterprise system, Congress should put the Export-Import Bank out of business.”
The administration has suggested it will attempt to reform the bank, with Budget Director Mick Mulvaney telling CNBC that the goal is to “make sure the bank sticks to its knitting” in order to prevent it engaging in “mission creep.” Additionally, the administration plans to “start talking to other export credit facilities around the world to see if we can lower the level of government interference in the marketplace from all sides.”
In addition to Garrett, President Trump also announced he will nominate former Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), a more establishment Republican, to serve on the bank’s board of directors. Bachus was a supporter of the Ex-Im Bank while in Congress.