For a governor like John Kasich in Ohio, who believes the private sector is superior to the public sector and who generally doesn’t miss a chance to tap into funds from Washington, his silence now on backing a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank is interesting since 15 other Republican governors, including one that harbors aspirations to run for the White House, have signed a letter to legislative leaders urging them to keep it going past the end of the year when its charter expires.
Thirty-one governors in all signed a letter dated July 15 backing Ex-Im and its role in helping companies do business overseas. In a conference call Wednesday with reporters, Ohio’s senior U.S. Senator, Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, was crystal clear in his support to keep Ex-Im up and running. “The Export-Import Bank lets small business owners focus on exporting their products, instead of worrying about their financing,” Brown said.
“As governors of states whose economies and workers benefit from exports, we urge you to reauthorize the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) before its charter expires this year. In its role as the official U.S. export credit agency, Ex-Im is a vital export finance tool for exporters in our states, at no cost to American taxpayers,” the letter reads. According to these governors, but for Ex-Im financing, which assumes the credit and country risks that the private sector is unable or unwilling to accept, U.S. firms would have lost many sales campaigns to their overseas competitors.”
As the Washington Post writes, GOP governors considering White House bids have stepped carefully around the political minefield the reauthorization fight has become. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Ohio Gov. John Kasich have remained silent about the bank. Meanwhile, a trip down memory lane shows then Congressman Kasich, who represented the 12th District for nine terms, rejected a proposal from two fellow Republicans in 1995 who argued for its elimination, saying it’s “a prime example of corporate welfare.” As chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee, Kasich liked Ex-Im.
Republican governors Brian Sandoval (Nev.), Susana Martinez (New Mexico), Mary Fallin (Okla.) and Jan Brewer (Ariz.) were among the nine Republicans to back renewing the bank, based on signers of the letter. Furthermore, exports supported by Ex-Im also supports about 205,000 American jobs in states across the country. WaPo’s Reid Wilson reports that over the past five years, “on top of creating or sustaining one million American jobs, Ex-Im has earned over $2 billion for U.S. taxpayers through the fees the agency charges for its services.”
Gov. Kasich has long established his bona fedes as a politician opposed to so-called corporate welfare. But that fig leaf has vanished into thin air now that he has about $6 billion to give away through his pet project, JobsOhio, a privatized and secret replacement for the public agency that guided economic development for nearly four decades.
Gov. Kasich, like a handful of other GOP governors, harbor hopes to be president. Not on the short list for the GOP, Kasich is considered an outlier who as chief executive of a major Midwestern state that factors heavily into presidential politics could move up in the standings for Republicans in 2016 if he wins a second term this year.
And with the release Monday of a new poll commissioned by the Ohio Democratic Party, Public Policy Polling casts doubt on Kasich’s electibility if their poll showing a dead-heat race between him and Ed FitzGerald, the Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate, is as accurate as some say it is. Kasich has said he was interested in the White House in 2000, when he retired from Congress and made a short-lived attempt to win is party’s nomination, but that interest doesn’t burn bright now. Few believe him, while many think the allure of national politics will draw him into the primary should he win a second and final term in November.