Texas Businesses Are Not Very Happy With Jeb Hensarling

Powerful Republican is criticized for killing jobs in his home state as an affiliated PAC solicits donations.

A group of Texas businesses and their local representatives last week urged Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) to reconsider his opposition to a government export program the group argues helps U.S. businesses sell products overseas and creates American jobs.

Hensarling, chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee, is among the leaders of a movement in Washington to kill the Export-Import Bank of the United States. Like similar conservative Republicans, Hensarling argues that the export bank amounts to "crony capitalism," in which a handpicked few with government connections are able to use scarce taxpayer resources to get an advantage over their less-connected competitors.

The export lender backs loans and gives other guarantees to help U.S. businesses sell their wares to foreign buyers. Big corporations, such as Boeing Co. and General Electric Co., are among its biggest beneficiaries, further inflaming opponents such as Hensarling, who claim that the bank generally helps politically connected corporate interests rather than all U.S. exporters.

Hensarling's opposition helped derail the export lender by causing its authority to strike new deals to expire on June 30, following congressional inaction. The export-focused government lender had generally been supported by wide majorities of both Democrats and Republicans.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) is chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) is chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee.

In their Wednesday letter, Texas business groups and small businesses told Hensarling that his opposition to the bank had cost his home state an unspecified number of jobs.

"[C]ountless exporters have come forward with stories about lost sales and opportunities directly related to their inability to access Ex-Im financing," the group said in its letter. "These companies and their employees, as well as their supply chains, are footing the bill for your inaction in Washington."

David Popp, a spokesman for Hensarling on the financial services committee, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But as Hensarling fights "crony capitalism," an affiliated political action committee nicknamed the "JEB Fund" (Jobs, Economy and Budget) is soliciting $5,000 donations to hobnob with Hensarling and other House Republicans next February at the exclusive Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, for the fund's "annual ski weekend," according to a copy of the Thursday invitation.

In exchange for giving money to the political action committee, donors such as corporate interests can obtain access to Hensarling as they "unwind in absolute luxury," according to the description on the resort's website.