As we noted earlier, in the process of urging Paul Ryan to run for the House Speaker’s job, the State Journal went way over the top ladling on words like (Did we say, Over.The.Top.?) “statesman,” “intellectual heft” and “political savvy.”
Their piece also included this puzzling bit:
…he’s railed against the “crony capitalism” of Washington that delivers favors to well-connected special interests…
That surprised us. Ryan’s surely made a name for himself as an enemy of Social Security and Medicare, but has he really been “railing” against “crony capitalism”? We’d missed that.
Now we’ve stumbled on the answer. Yes, he sort of has been “railing,” but it’s actually a shabby little bit of political theater which has now led to 350 lost jobs in Waukesha.
Ryan has been shoulder-to-shoulder with Tea Party members in the House who are eager to shut down the U.S. Export Import Bank, a smallish federal agency that has never, until this year, been controversial. You can be forgiven if you never paid attention to the U.S. Export-Import Bank. No one paid it any attention, except for exporters and importers.
But why do America’s most conservative Congresspeople suddenly want to kill off the Ex-Im Bank?
There is no argument that the bank has been a drain on the Treasury. It never cost taxpayers at all; it made money. Every year it sent a sizeable profit back to the U.S. Treasury ($675 million last year). And, of course, it supported billions of dollars in private business profits, which was its mission. And of course, it inevitably supported lots of private sector jobs. It actually sounds quite useful. Why were conservatives in Congress trying to kill it?
The truth is it’s just a good talking point, if you’re speaking to a rabidly anti-gov’t audience. By killing Ex-Im the Tea Party lawmakers could show supporters that they’re really doing something to make government smaller.
And they did shut down Ex-Im for 3 months. In July the Tea Party zealots of the House, along with Mr. Ryan, blocked reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank. (This just in: In a big-surprise vote last night, the House has voted to re-approve Ex-Im.) But back to Paul Ryan.
Here is Ryan back in July explaining why he wanted to get rid of the Ex-Im Bank. Note that it is pure ideology:
My friend Rep. Jeb Hensarling has recently launched a great challenge against the crony capitalist economy, and in particular, against one of its manifestations, the Export-Import Bank. But the bank is just one example of how bureaucratic government is corrupting free enterprise through and through. Conservatives must stop defending this. Cronyism is the Progressives’ project for economic control. Let them defend it.
And in Waukesha, Wisconsin, because of this Ex-Im Bank kerfuffle, General Electric announced the closing of its large-engine manufacturing plant:
Blaming Congress for its failure to reauthorize the U.S. Export-Import Bank, an institution that finances sales of U.S. industrial equipment to overseas customers, General Electric Co. says it will stop manufacturing engines in Waukesha and move that work to Canada.
About 350 jobs will be lost at the Waukesha plant, where GE Power & Water, a division of Fairfield, Conn.-based GE, builds engines used in the petroleum industry.
The company says it will move the production to a new $265 million engine factory to be built in Canada during the next 20 months.
GE has said the decision will not be reconsidered.
Please re-read Mr. Ryan’s words. Try to find the “statesman,” “intellectual heft” and “political savvy” stuff the State Journal wrote about.