Commerce Secretary John Bryson says the Export-Import Bank "has… (Jonathan Ernst/Bloomberg )
WASHINGTON -- With many Republicans blocking re-authorization of the Export-Import Bank, Commerce Secretary John Bryson called the institution an example of good government that plays a vital role in the economy.
"Reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank should be a straightforward, sound, and simple decision," Bryson said Friday. "Or put another way, losing Ex-Im at a time when America’s businesses and workers are just getting back on their feet, would be unacceptable."
Bryson made the comments in prepared remarks before a receptive audience -- the bank's annual conference in Washington.
His push for re-authorization, part of an overall Obama administration effort, came a day after former president Bill Clinton, giving the conference keynote, made the same pitch.
The bank helps finance U.S. exports with loan guarantees that ultimately are backed by the government. Its authorization expires at the end of next month.
The administration and some leading business groups want to reauthorize the bank and gradually increase its lending capacity to $140 billion by 2015 from $100 billion.
But some Republicans have blocked the re-authorization. They call the bank an example of crony capitalism that leads the government to pick winners and losers in the marketplace.
Opponents have been urged on by conservative groups such as the Club for Growth, which last month hammered the bank for past loan guarantees for Hollywood films.
Bryson said the bank's financing led to about $41 billion in U.S. exports last year, and the loan guarantees did not cost taxpayers any money.
"In fact, Ex-Im has actually generated revenues for the U.S. Treasury since the 1990s," he said. "Now that’s smart government."
The bank has been working closely with the Commerce Department to try to meet President Obama's goal of doubling U.S. exports from 2010 to 2015.
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