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Posted: Jan 20, 2022 12:01 AM

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For years now, the U.S. Export-Import Bank — an under-the-radar agency that provides subsidized loans to foreign firms willing to buy American products — has tried to remain relevant. After a semi-hiatus alongside criticism for functioning as the “Bank of Boeing,” Ex-Im convinced the Trump and Biden administrations that it may be a tremendous weapon to fight Chinese influence. While it can do no such thing, Ex-Im is now moving on to something else: extending its domestic influence.Ex-Im’s grandiose claims shouldn’t distract us from its mediocrity. In 2019, Congress handed the agency a seven-year reauthorization and restored a quorum on its board of directors. This allowed Ex-Im to resume work on what it claimed was a $40-billion backlog of U.S. projects. The argument was that during the four prior years, when Ex-Im was mostly dormant, U.S. exporters lost billions of dollars because foreign clients couldn’t access preferential loan rates and terms (all backed by American taxpayers). These exports, the tale continued, were ready to roll as soon as the agency was revived.Nonsense. Three years later, advocates for the Bank’s crony activities still use the backlog as justification. In other words, if there ever was a backlog, it’s apparently still there. …

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