#NCSEN: Fact-checking the Ex-Im Bank, corporate welfare discussion

kaytomThe Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney has waded into our marquee election.  I am typically a big fan of Carney.  (I even bought ONE of his books.)  But painting Thom Tillis as an anti-corporate welfare warrior doing battle with corporatist Kay Hagan is a bit too much.

Much of this has to do with the upcoming reauthorization of the US Export-Import Bank. Hagan has been a staunch defender of the organization — suggesting that it has  had a huge impact on North Carolina. Tillis is out there, now, calling for the bank to be disbanded. (I seem to remember him saying, earlier, that he favored opening the bank’s bag of goodies to more potential recipients. We’re still searching Google for that article.) 

The Export-Import Bank is a favorite of the US Chamber of Commerce, which has been backing Tillis to the hilt.  Carney, in his piece, lays out his version of the campaign debate:

[…] Ex-Im’s charter expires this fall, and Hagan loudly supports renewal again. Tillis, meanwhile, would eliminate Ex-Im, which is corporate welfare that harms the broader economy at the expense of a few exporters.

As a state legislative leader who pushed an aggressive legislative agenda in Raleigh, Tillis has a reputation for straddling the line between the GOP establishment and Tea Party conservatives. Opposing Ex-Im puts Tillis at odds with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and most of the business lobby, but it aligns him with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling.

With Tillis opposing corporate welfare and Hagan defending it, you might think this would undermine the Democrats’ line of attack on the Republican. From the beginning of the campaign, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has blasted Tillis as “Poster Boy For Raleigh Special Interests.” They have knocked him for his closeness to “big business” and for being too cozy with “lobbyists for corporations.”bill-cosby-500

First, it’s tough to seriously argue Tillis pushed an aggressive legislative agenda.  Time and again, he and fellow Charlottean Pat McCrory worked to water down conservative initiatives that emerged from the state Senate.  Tillis — who once pushed legislation through the House establishing an ObamaCare exchange — had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the fight to refuse federal money to expand Medicaid, a key component of ObamaCare. 

Second, it’s tough to seriously paint Tillis as a corporate welfare opponent.  It’s pretty clear that Tillis is taking this position because his establishment buddies are giving their blessing.  McCarthy and McConnell were ALL FOR Ex-Im the last time it came up for a vote.

If you define corporate welfare as giving special favors to big, well-connected businesses, Tillis has been an enthusiastic player in the game.  At one point in the primary, Tillis was in Wilmington singing the praises of state incentives for movie studios.  Within days of those comments, a Wilmington-based movie studio dumped a significant amount of cash into his Senate campaign treasury. 

Tillis helped kill legislation that would force electric car maker Tesla to have a brick-and-mortar dealership in the state, in order to do business.  There are also state incentives on the books for people who buy Tesla cars.  Tesla got special favors from the state that no one else has received.  Tesla has been a client of Tillis’s brother-in-law’s Massachusetts-based law firm. 

Tillis helped push through legislation favorable to the consumer finance lending industry.  Within days of that vote, some major players in that industry were hosting a big fundraiser for Tillis. 

Tillis has  had a chance to shake up the state Commerce Department practice of handing out incentives and goodies to industries being recruited to North Carolina.  Yet, he allowed the House to approve a reorganization of the department that keeps that practice in place.

Neither one of the major party candidates in this year’s Senate race has a very good record on “corporate welfare.”  It’s a nasty, corrupting practice that needs to be snuffed out.

If Raleigh and DC really want to sell us Thom Tillis — they need to try something new.

4 thoughts on “#NCSEN: Fact-checking the Ex-Im Bank, corporate welfare discussion

  1. How is the State of North Carolina coming out on the approximately $240,000,000 incentive to Spirit Aero to entice them to the Global Transpark?

    As I recall the Golden Leaf Slush Fund kicked the ball off by writing one check for $100,000,000.

    I think the State still budgets about $1,400,000 to subsidize the GTP so they can pay the light bill and keep the internet connection for online gaming.

    Funny thing about incentives is that the elected officials tell you at the time how great it will be for North Carolina. Then as the years go by you never hear much about it. Of course estimating the benefit to the state from these incentives is much like reading tea leaves.

  2. I read The Washington Examiner article over the weekend and nearly fell off the chair laughing. Tim Carney is a strong opponent of the Export Import Bank and effectively argues against the Cronyism & Corporate Welfare the Bank promotes every opportunity he can. I would say that the opponents of this bill are happy to have anyone on board the train to stop the reauthorization of the bank this September. After all, isn’t this how the games are played in DC?
    As for Tillis suddenly making any policy statement, let alone one that is actually conservative, well, talk is cheap during the silly season.
    For Conservatives, please take the time to let your Congressmen & Senators know that you do NOT want them to Reauthorize the ExIm Bank this Sept. Let it sunset. Unfortunately, both Hagan & Burr currently support the #BankofFraudCronyism&Corruption.

  3. Hold Tillis accountable, yes. But, it is imperative that all conservatives go out and vote for him. Otherwise, Hagen will win.

    Walt-in-Durham

    1. Isn’t that a bit like voting for Hitler because Stalin is worse? What the stinking GOP establishment did in Mississippi has cured me of ever voting for the lesser of the evils. Tillis is going to have to show me a good reason to vote for him, and he has failed to do that to this point. I keep my fingers crossed that he will by election day, but I am not holding my breath. But I absolutely will not be voting for Hagan, and more than I would vote for Stalin.

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