The Export-Import Bank’s charter expires on June 30, so it’s only natural that we would be exposed to a barrage of lobbying, public relations and advertising to pressure legislators to reauthorize the corporate-subsidizing agency. But, much like the agency itself, the whole affair reeks of cronyism at its worst.
“There’s no question that having a friendship with the president of the United States has been — I don’t mean to quote the book — has been a game-changer for me and my family,” Wolf told The Hill in a wide-ranging interview in Washington.
That’s because Wolf’s company, 32 Advisors, specializes in hooking up clients with ways to get money from the federal government.
Wolf is a major Ex-Im Bank supporter. But unlike more academic or policy-oriented defenders of the program, he has a direct financial interest in keeping U.S. export subsidies flowing. His ability to sign clients depends, in part, on the continued availability of federal export financing for him to secure.
It also depends on his ability to actually secure that financing. To that end, 32 Advisors has recently beefed up its staff with executives with strong Ex-Im Bank ties, some of which have served in senior positions for the agency.
The conveyor belt connecting Ex-Im Bank staff and 32 Advisor staff includes the Ex-Im Bank’s former vice president of structured finance, John Schuster, deputy general counsel, Carter Lawson, and senior vice president and chief of staff, Kevin Varney. Austan Goolsbee, President Obama’s former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors is also with 32 Advisors. Carter Lawson has since moved on and Varney has recently moved to Boeing, the largest beneficiary of Ex-Im’s financing with 83 percent of all loan guarantees in 2012:
The Obama administration last year dedicated more than 80 percent of export loan guarantees to subsidizing a single company – Boeing.
In fiscal year 2012, Ex-Im issued $14.7 billion in loan guarantees. $12.2 billion of that money subsidized Boeing sales.
That’s right: 82.7% of all of Ex-Im’s taxpayer-backed loan guarantees benefitted one corporation.
For their part, Schuster and Varney are quick to point out that they helped grow the Bank’s lending. Schuster said that he grew the structured finance lending from $2 billion to more than $10 billion, while during Varney’s time as chief of staff, he brags that “lending grew from $14 bn in 2008 to over $35 bn in 2012.”
Meanwhile, Justin Oberman serves as President of Measure, a 32 Advisors company. In the late 90s, Justin helped establish the aviation practice at Arthur Andersen, where his clients included ExIm Bank.
Its too bad 32 Advisors does not list the company’s clients on its website. It sure would be nice to know if they are working for Boeing, wouldn’t it?