Mayors Cite Conflicting Statistics In Defense Of Ex-Im

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Peter Fricke Contributor
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A letter from the U.S. Conference of Mayors to congressional leaders urging reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank is drawing quizzical looks from some in D.C. Particularly the claim that the bank is responsible for 180,000 jobs in California and Florida alone– or nearly 90 percent of all the jobs proponents say Ex-Im created in the entire country. And that, despite those states receiving only 14 percent of the bank’s total authorizations.

The Hill reported on Wednesday that Kevin Johnson, the Democratic mayor of Sacramento and president of the United States Conference of Mayors, circulated the letter to Senate and House leadership last week in an effort to influence lawmakers who are still undecided about whether to extend the bank’s charter, which is due to expire in June.

At the group’s annual meeting in June, Johnson writes, 300 mayors “unanimously adopted a resolution in support for Ex-Im Bank’s reauthorization,” claiming that, “without support from the Export-Import Bank, businesses in cities nationwide will face little or no financing alternatives, putting U.S. jobs in jeopardy.”

In 2013, the letter claims, “Ex-Im Bank provided more than $27.3 billion in financing, enabling $34.7 billion in exports and supporting more than 205,000 jobs nationwide.” (RELATED: Is the Export-Import Bank Done?)

Those figures accurately reflect the official estimates provided in Ex-Im’s 2013 Annual Report, but just two paragraphs later the mayors make a more dubious assertion.

“To put things further in perspective,” they write, “Ex-Im Bank support for small businesses led to more than 46,000 jobs in the state of Florida and more than 134,000 jobs in the state of California alone.”

That comes to 180,000 jobs in two states, which simple math shows leaves just 25,000 jobs that Ex-Im could have supported in the remaining 48 states. (RELATED: Export-Import Bank Gives Billions to Boeing, Coal to Taxpayers)

According to Ex-Im’s Congressional map tool, in 2013 exporters in Florida received $748 million in Ex-Im authorizations, supporting $2 billion in exports, while California exporters received $3 billion in authorizations, supporting $5 billion in exports.

Together, then, Florida and California accounted for almost 88 percent of the total jobs supported by Ex-Im in the entire country, but just under 19 percent of all the exports supported that year, and less than 14 percent of the bank’s total authorizations.

Moreover, the mayors claim that Ex-Im support for small businesses was behind the jobs in Florida and California, but as  Reuters reported in November, Ex-Im “has mischaracterized potentially hundreds of large companies and units of multinational conglomerates as small businesses,” including companies owned by billionaires like Warren Buffett and Mexico’s Carlos Slim.

Of roughly 6,000 businesses listed as “small” by Ex-Im, Reuters claims, around 200 “appear to be mislabeled,” and the classification of many others is uncertain. (RELATED: Some ‘Beneficiaries’ of Ex-Im Oppose Reauthorization)

“The Ex-Im Bank has a history of deliberately deceiving the public by reporting data that is often inaccurate and incomplete,” Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Maybe they hired Jonathan Gruber to get the data for this letter?”

Dan Holler, communications director for Heritage Action, sounded a similar tune, telling The DCNF that, “It sounds like the mayors learned how to count from Jonathan Gruber … [because] their numbers just don’t add up.”

“Instead of coming hat-in-hand to Washington,” he added, “the mayors should be fighting to remove regulatory burdens and other government-induced impediments to economic growth.”

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