File this under cry me a river:
Big business groups like the Chamber of Commerce spent millions of dollars in 2010 to elect Republican candidates running for the House. The return on investment has not always met expectations.
Even though money for major road and bridge projects is set to run out this weekend, House Republican leaders have struggled all week to round up the votes from recalcitrant conservatives simply to extend it for 90 or even 60 days. A longer-term transportation bill that contractors and the chamber say is vital to the recovery of the construction industry appears hopelessly stalled over costs.
At the same time, House conservatives are pressing to allow the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which has financed business exports since the Depression, to run out of lending authority within weeks. The bank faces the very real possibility of shutting its doors completely by the end of May, when its legal authorization expires.
And a host of routine business tax breaks — from wind energy subsidies to research and development tax credits — cannot be passed because of Republican insistence that they be paid for with spending cuts.
Business groups that worked hard to install a Republican majority in the House equated Republican control with a business-friendly environment. But the majority is first and foremost a conservative political force, and on key issues, its ideology is not always aligned with commercial interests that helped finance election victories.
Some of what the teahadists want to kill is simply insane:
With its charter set to expire in May, the bank is the target of conservative groups. They are making the case to Republicans that the bank, created in 1934 to finance sales to the Soviet Union, has no place in a free-market system. Club for Growth is holding it up as the next Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, crowding out private lending and offering dangerous loans that ultimately could be left in the laps of the taxpayer.
“Those groups are just wrong, period,” said Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers and a generous personal contributor to Republican candidates.
The bank is financed with a small percentage of each loan it makes to foreign buyers of American exports, producing $3.4 billion in profits for the federal government over the last five years.
Drew Greenblatt, president and owner of Marlin Steel Wire Products, in Baltimore, said he recently got a rush order for wire baskets from a firm in Singapore, assuming he could finance the sale. He went to the Export-Import Bank and paid a one-half-percent fee on the loan. The bank guaranteed 95 percent of the loan. He kept the plant working through the weekend and completed the sale.
“Think about all the winners in this transaction,” he said. “Ex-Im got half a point. Baltimore City steelworkers got extra hours. I got extra profits to meet payroll, and hopefully I got a client who will reorder from me.”
If anything, the anger over the stalled transportation bill is even more acute, business lobbyists say. The Senate, in a bipartisan vote, has passed a surface transportation bill that would keep money flowing for two years. The House, however, appears stuck.
They don’t even want to pay for roads. Think about that. They don’t even want to pay for roads.