The new, know nothing McCarthy

 Almonds, dairy products, table grapes, oranges, lemons, cotton,  pistachios, beef, melons, raisins, pomegranates, and agricultural and oil-drilling related manufacturing are major exports from the south San Joaquin Valley CA district of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, "Scourge of the Import-Export Bank," R-Bakersfield.
But McCarthy, now in third position in Republican House leadership aches with ambition to be the Number One Numbnut Knucklehead Teabagger Ideologist of Them All, leaving them Wisconsin pretenders in the dust. Therefore, having once had the sense of his own district, he now votes against the Import-Export Bank, which, particularly in the case of the small businesses, makes exporting possible with some assurance of getting paid.
The plutocracy's takeover of Congress has just made the leadership there dumber and dumber. McCarthy doubtlessly knows nothing nor cares anything for the historic struggle California business has had even to get one of its local banks to write a letter of credit or to get its own Legislature at all interested in the problem.
This McCarthy is a long, long way from former Assembly Speaker Leo McCarthy, D-SF, who did a great deal to bring California exporting into the late 20th century. -- blj
Bakersfield Californian
DON NELSON: Export-Import Bank opponents threaten jobs here in the valley
As the U.S. economy continues its slow but steady recovery -- with manufacturing and exports playing a key role -- the debate in Congress over the future of the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) is coming to a head. Absent congressional action, Ex-Im will be unable to provide new loans or guarantees to American exporters after its charter expires on Sept. 30. Unfortunately, the opponents of the bank seem to look at it through a completely ideological lens, showing little regard for the practical impact its closure would have on jobs in communities across the country -- including in the Central Valley.
I serve as the president of ProGauge Technologies, Inc. and Ramsgate Engineering, Inc., which employs approximately 100 people here in Bakersfield. We pay good wages and employ people full-time. ProGauge's main products are equipment including steam generators, production manifolds and measuring equipment used for the recovery of heavy oil. Like many small exporters, we rely on Ex-Im for financing that allows us to sell to the Middle East and other oil-rich countries.
This is because our private bank, Wells Fargo, requires us to obtain an Ex-Im guarantee in addition to our corporate and personal guarantees before they will issue a performance bond or bank guaranty on our behalf. International trade finance is more complex than domestic deals and requires letters of credit. For small businesses that do large, long-term deals like ours, Ex-Im working capital guarantees are essential to make these letters of credit affordable.
Critics of Ex-Im say that the private market will step in and take over, but that is just not the case. I already work with Wells Fargo, and without Ex-Im, I will not be able to export. This is because private banks will not collateralize loans against works in progress or foreign receivables, and letters of credit require 100 percent collateral. Small businesses like ours can only make these deals possible with Ex-Im.
If Ex-Im's opponents have their way, and the bank is not reauthorized, I am going to lose export sales and I would have to reduce my workforce. Nearly 65 percent of ProGauge Technologies, Inc. sales are exports, and all of that revenue will evaporate with Ex-Im. Translated into jobs, that could be 50 to 60 people I will have to cut for no good reason, and others in Bakersfield and across California will be forced to do the same.
Since 2007, Ex-Im related transactions supported more than 1,300 jobs in or around the Bakersfield metro area. In California, Ex-Im supported more than 130,000 jobs at 948 different companies. This support fueled $211 million of exports in our region and nearly $21 billion of exports throughout the state.
Amazingly, this support came at no cost to taxpayers. ProGauge pays additional interest fees to Ex-Im for its services, as do all companies who use the bank. Thanks to these fees, Ex-Im managed to return more than $1 billion to the U.S. treasury in 2013.
With so many jobs at stake in Bakersfield and California, it is difficult to understand why any politician opposes reauthorization. Our own congressman, Rep. Kevin McCarthy -- only after becoming House Majority Leader -- switched his position from voting for the Ex-Im Bank two years ago to opposing the Bank's re-authorization today. McCarthy was elected to keep the interests of his constituents, and companies and their employees, like mine, here in Bakersfield at the forefront of his political agenda. So he should do the right thing by reauthorizing the bank before its charter expires at the end of September. My company and its hardworking employees, like other small companies and their employees here in Bakersfield."
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Export-Import bank's reauthorization in jeopardy

by Craig Gilbert and Rick Barrett
As lawmakers in Washington wrestle over the future of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, Milwaukee businessman Bill Maxon has no question where he stands on the issue.
Maxon runs a small company with about 30 employees that makes machines used in mixing and placing concrete. Exports account for 70% of his business. And he says the somewhat obscure bank has played a part in making that happen — a case in point being its backing of a 2010 deal with a Turkish company, which bought nearly $10 million worth of equipment from Maxon and two other companies for a hydroelectric dam project.
"I guarantee you that we would not have gotten that order without the bank's support," Maxon said.
The government-run Export-Import Bank provides direct loans, loan guarantees and credit insurance to help foreign buyers purchase American-made products. In its 2013 annual report, the bank said it approved an all-time high of 3,842 authorizations for the 12-month period, with an estimated export value of $37.4 billion.
The support sustained an estimated 205,000 export-related U.S. jobs, according to the bank.
Yet suddenly the bank's survival is under assault. Its charter expires in September, and its reauthorization, long taken for granted, is a subject of intense debate.
Democrats almost uniformly support the bank. So do the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers.
Republicans, however, are split, with many conservatives opposing the bank as an example of corporate welfare, crony capitalism, or of the government's picking winners and losers in the marketplace.
"In reality, the Export-Import Bank is just bad policy..." the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington, D.C., think tank, said in a statement.
Opponents of the Ex-Im Bank include some of the nation's highest-profile lawmakers, among them House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, the Republican from Janesville.
"We have to decide whether we want to be a pro-business party or a pro-market party," Ryan said in an interview, acknowledging that his opposition to the bank puts him on the other side of business groups with whom he agrees "95 percent of the time."
Ryan calls the bank a "strange collusion of big business and big government" and argues it's antithetical to conservative free-market principles.
When the bank's charter was last reauthorized in 2012, all four Democrats in Wisconsin's congressional delegation voted for it, but only two of the six Republicans voted yes. Sen. Ron Johnson and House members Ryan, Jim Sensenbrenner and Tom Petri opposed the reauthorization, while then-freshmen House members Sean Duffy and Reid Ribble supported it.
In interviews last week, Ryan, Sensenbrenner and Petri all reiterated their opposition to or strong reservations about the bank. Johnson, Duffy and Ribble declined interview requests, though a Duffy aide said the lawmaker is undecided on reauthorization. In a statement, Ribble said he was seeking additional reforms in how the bank works but defended its mission:
"In a perfect world there'd be no need for it, but the Ex-Im Bank prevents the U.S. from facing a competitive disadvantage with our trading partners based on policies put in place by their governments," Ribble said.
A controversial decision
The bank used to be so noncontroversial that it was sometimes reauthorized by voice vote in the House and Senate. But Republican opposition has grown with the rise of the tea party, reflecting tensions in the party between populist conservatives and the business establishment.
Almost four in 10 House Republicans voted against reauthorizing the bank in 2012, and today more than half may oppose it, Ryan said. Opponents include Petri, a more moderate Republican, who has voted against the bank since the 1990s.
Critics say it mostly serves big, well-connected companies. They also question the bank's overall impact and cost-effectiveness, even as its backers say it helps create fair competition in an era when dozens of foreign countries subsidize their own exports.
"I understand that other countries are doing it," said Petri. "I don't think that's a persuasive argument."
Ryan says he opposes the bank in principle, but Sensenbrenner says he might be open to supporting it with changes. Like other critics, he says the bank's financing decisions sometimes have unintended consequences. Delta Air Lines, for example, complains that sales of American-made Boeing jets to foreign airlines on favorable terms — with backing from the bank — helped Boeing but ended up placing U.S. airlines at a competitive disadvantage.
"If there are not reforms to the Export-Import Bank, and it is allowed to continue undercutting American jobs, I am not going to vote for reauthorization," Sensenbrenner said.
Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin says issues like that can be addressed legislatively, but "don't throw the baby out with the bath water."
A strong supporter of the bank, she has done events with the bank aimed at guiding Wisconsin businesses through the export process. She says the business community in the state has expressed its strong support for the bank. She also says the idea of getting rid of it because it intervenes in the free market ignores the reality of global commerce.
"When the competition for U.S. small, medium and large businesses often takes the form of state-owned or state-supported enterprises in other countries, that means that if we want a level playing field, we have to create that level playing field. It doesn't exist absent (programs) like this," Baldwin said.
Bank's uncertain future
The uncertainty about the Ex-Im Bank's future makes Maxon uneasy. He says he has worked with the bank for more than 30 years. Much of his company's work outside the U.S. has been on large projects such as the expansion of the Panama Canal, and although his clients don't often use the bank's financing, it's important that it be made available to them.
"If you take that away from me, as a small business, it would not necessarily cripple my international sales, but it would cut them by a significant percentage. It means that we would not be able to compete on an international basis to sell our product," Maxon said.
The bank says much of its backing is for sales by small companies, and its website includes a map detailing activity in each state and congressional district from 2007 to the present.
Over the past two years, the bank says, it has supported $2 billion in exports from Wisconsin companies, many of them described as small businesses.
But as in the Delta case, the bank's impact isn't always clear cut. Last year, for example, it authorized a $694.4 million loan supporting an Australian iron ore mine on the condition that it would buy hundreds of millions of dollars in mining and rail equipment from Caterpillar Inc. and two other U.S. companies.
The loan will support 3,400 U.S. jobs, including hundreds of positions at suppliers to Caterpillar, according to the bank.
Critics, however, including Michigan and Minnesota lawmakers, contend the new Australian mine's production will hurt prices on international markets and harm U.S. ore producers.
In a similarly contentious case in 2010, the former Bucyrus International, now owned by Caterpillar, was blindsided when the Ex-Im Bank voted to deny loan guarantees for a power plant in India that would have used Bucyrus mining equipment in its coal mines. Bank officials cited environmental reasons — stemming from President Barack Obama's climate change agenda — for refusing to support a fossil fuel project.
With $600 million in equipment sales and as many as 1,000 U.S. jobs hanging in the balance, then-Bucyrus President Tim Sullivan launched an intense campaign and persuaded the bank to reverse the decision and approve the loan guarantees.
Ryan and Sensenbrenner both cite the Bucyrus case as a cautionary tale about the bank.
"Not only were they picking winners and losers; they were also inserting their political agenda," Ryan said, referring to the Obama administration.
"I intend to talk about the Bucyrus situation" when the House debates the bank's future, said Sensenbrenner.
Still, the Bucyrus story cuts both ways. When Ryan and Sensenbrenner criticized the Obama administration over the bank's initial rejection of the deal, they were making many of the same arguments the bank's supporters use today to justify its existence: that failing to give U.S. companies this kind of aid can cost jobs.
"American products and workers can compete with the best in the world, if they are given a chance — unfortunately, in this instance, they were not," Ryan said when urging the Ex-Im Bank to reverse itself and back the Bucyrus deal.
Competing in a global market
Because most large, developed nations have their own version of an export bank, U.S. manufacturers would be at a serious competitive disadvantage without it, said Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.
"It would have a ripple effect throughout the U.S. economy," Sheehy said, adding that arguing against its existence "crashes on the rocks of reality when it comes to competing in a global market."
Josh Dukelow, vice president of public policy at the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce and Industry,expresses a similar sentiment: There's a big, untapped market for many manufacturers, he said, and it's called "the rest of the world."
That's the market that the bank has made more accessible to Sturgeon Bay companies Dan's Fish and Kahlenberg Industries. Both have used the bank as a safety net to ensure they'll be paid when selling their products overseas.
It's difficult enough to collect on a debt in the U.S., let alone in another country, said Dan Schwarz, president of Dan's Fish, which has used the bank's insurance to ensure it will be paid when it sells its Great Lakes fish and caviar to customers in countries including China, Russia, Sweden, Estonia and Finland.
Kahlenberg Industries has been making ship whistles and horns for about a century. Almost every ship on the Great Lakes has one of its horns, including the SS Badger, which runs between Manitowoc and Ludington, Mich.
In 2008, during the global financial crisis, Kahlenberg turned to the bank for credit insurance on deals with some overseas yacht builders, company President Steve Kahlenberg said.
"It helped us sleep a little better at night," he said.