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Kasich Opposes Ex-Im, Says ‘Big Guys Always Want Freebies’

Ohio Gov. John Kasich fell in line with other potential Republican presidential candidates Wednesday, declaring his opposition to reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank.

Although Kasich had previously made generic statements indicating his opposition to Ex-Im, he outlined his position much more comprehensively during the speech in Charleston, S.C., The Charleston Post and Courier reports.

“I don’t like the idea that if the private banks cannot make loans, that therefore the government ought to make them,” Kasich explained to members of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce.

Ex-Im provides financing assistance to American exporters. Supporters say the bank boosts job growth by helping exporters sell their goods overseas, but opposition has been steadily mounting among Republicans who see it as a source of corporate welfare for large corporations.

Ex-Im’s current charter expires on June 30, and detractors are increasingly confident they will be able to prevent Congress from reauthorizing it before that deadline. Should they succeed, the bank will lose the ability to make new loans, but will continue to operate until its existing agreements have run their course. (RELATED: Is the Export-Import Bank Done?)

The Chamber of Commerce was a bold choice of venue for Kasich to deliver his remarks, not least because state and local chambers of commerce been among Ex-Im’s most vocal defenders on the conservative side. The bank also has considerable support in South Carolina, where Ex-Im poster child Boeing employs about 8,000 people.

Boeing is by far the biggest beneficiary of Ex-Im financing, receiving 40 percent of the bank’s total authorizations in 2014, and company officials have made statements in recent weeks warning that Boeing will consider outsourcing manufacturing jobs if Ex-Im is not reauthorized.

“The big guys always want ‘freebies,’” Kasich observed, but said the government already hands out too many subsidies to corporations that wield political influence. (RELATED: Boeing Threatens to Outsource Jobs if Ex-Im is Shut Down)

“If you’re going to reform welfare for poor people, you ought to reform it for rich people, too,” Kasich argued. “I’ve been against corporate welfare from the time I was in Congress.”

According to The Columbus Dispatch, however, Kasich’s record does not demonstrate that he viewed Ex-Im as corporate welfare during his time as a member of the House of Representatives from 1982 to 2001.

In both 1992 and 1997, the article points out, Kasich cast votes in favor of reauthorizing the bank’s charter, and he may also have supported similar measures that passed by voice votes in 1983 and 1986. (RELATED: Sens. Graham, Cantwell Threaten to Torpedo TPA Over Ex-Im)

Moreover, Ex-Im was not among the 12 federal programs targeted for elimination by a coalition Kasich joined in 1997, which he describes as part of his efforts to achieve corporate-welfare reform.

Kasich’s office did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation, but several prominent Ex-Im opponents said they are not bothered by his previous position, and welcomed his conversion enthusiastically.

“It is never too late to get it right,” Heritage Action communications director Dan Holler told TheDCNF. “What Gov. Kasich and others have realized is that the Republican Party cannot beat Hillary or pursue conservative policy reforms if it continues to protect corporate welfare, and allowing the Export-Import Bank to expire is the first step to getting it right.”

David McIntosh, president of the free-market group Club for Growth, offered a similar assessment, telling TheDCNF, “The truth about Ex-Im’s fraud has come to light and more leaders like Governor Kasich know it’s time to end Ex-Im.”

“Back in 1997 when Kasich voted for Ex-Im in the House, he was with the majority and only 33 Republicans opposed it,” McIntosh noted, but now Kasich has joined the ranks of other recent converts like former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, “who have come to see Ex-Im for what it is: corrupt corporate welfare, plain and simple.”

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