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Opinion >  Editorial

Editorial: Export-Import Bank, commerce need solid future

Republicans have played the uncertainty card in debates about health care reform, cap-and-trade legislation, tax policy and many other issues. Uncertainty, they say, is the bane of businesses, so we shouldn’t pursue changes that complicate planning.

So why did a Republican- controlled House of Representatives on Wednesday choose uncertainty by kicking the Export-Import Bank reauthorization nine months down the road?

It can’t be that it’s good for business.

The National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have lobbied hard for a five-year extension of the bank’s charter. The institution supports 85,000 jobs in Washington state and 200,000 nationwide, while returning $1 billion to the U.S. Treasury.

The extension, which ends next summer, will only cause export businesses and their partners to ask, “What then?” It certainly doesn’t instill confidence in pending or future deals.

The only certainty now is that this issue won’t muck up the re-election bids of those who have turned against the bank as part of a civil war within the Republican Party.

Critics like to call the institution the Bank of Boeing, but 90 percent of loans go to smaller businesses. A sampling of headlines from around the country shows the bank’s diverse support:

“Ohioans benefit from Export-Import Bank” – Columbus Dispatch

“Re-authorize Ex-Im Bank” – Wichita Eagle

“Expand exports for higher-wage jobs” – Orlando Sentinel

There was a time – not that long ago – that Ex-Im Bank reauthorization was uneventful. That certitude served business well. But now the bank’s critics lob lazy charges of “crony capitalism” and “corporate welfare” without backing them up. Again, the bank added $1 billion to federal coffers.

The rhetoric of misguided ideologues and conspiracy theorists is bad for business. The threatened government shutdowns are a prime example.

The tea party wing of the Republican Party has also bucked business interests by blocking an overdue infusion of the depleted Highway Trust Fund. Instead, the House passed a short-term fix over the summer.

Uncertainty wins. Commerce loses.

The entire Washingon congressional delegation – except for one person – is firmly behind the reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank, which fosters international transactions in the most trade dependent state in the union.

The lone holdout is U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers who is, well, uncertain.

Courage is a lot to ask for during election season, but this business should’ve been handled long ago. Rather than hold a stand-alone debate on the Ex-Im Bank, the House stuffed the short-term fix into a resolution that averted another government shutdown.

Many congressional observers believe Ex-Im reauthorization would pass a floor vote, but some House leaders are beholden to tea party colleagues for their lofty positions. So they keep it bottled up.

That’s what cronyism looks like, and it’s bad for business.

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