The American people believe jobs, a dysfunctional government and the economy in general are the most pressing issues facing the country, according to Gallupís most recent monthly poll.
These issues have ranked continuously at the top of the ďmost important problem listĒ since the beginning of 2014, and will likely remain high priorities through election season.
With this in mind, members of Congress should consider how their decisions are lining up with votersí priorities. A good place to start would be by supporting the reauthorization of a federal agency that accounts for thousands of American jobs and grows our nationís economy. This agency is the Export-Import Bank, and itís no surprise that it has been backed with bipartisan congressional support for the past 80 years.
The Ex-Im Bank is our nationís official export credit agency, and it assists in financing exports from thousands of American companies each year. As we continue to look to our business community to help our country regain its strong financial footing, itís crucial that employers have the ability to expand and grow abroad. The Ex-Im Bank is a vital tool in ensuring a level playing field for American manufacturers competing in foreign markets, as there are more than 60 official export credit agencies in other countries helping our foreign competitors aggressively pursue market share. The agency also helps small and medium-sized manufacturers enter emerging markets where their products are in demand, but financing capabilities are limited.
In 2013 alone, the Ex-Im Bank helped to facilitate more than $37 billion in U.S. exports. In turn, these exports supported about 205,000 American jobs at more than 3,400 companies, mostly small businesses. In fact, almost 90 percent of the Ex-Im Bankís transactions directly benefitted small manufacturers, and tens of thousands of other small businesses that supply products to large exporters indirectly benefitted.
For example, Price Pump ó a small California manufacturer of agricultural pumps ó depends on the Ex-Im Bank for export credit insurance. The insurance reduces nonpayment risk enough to give Price Pump the confidence to sell its product overseas and expand to new markets. Since Price Pump began its relationship with the Ex-Im Bank 12 years ago, the company has expanded its exports into Europe, South America, Southeast Asia and Africa.
In addition to the support the Ex-Im Bank provides manufacturers, it doesnít cost taxpayers a dime. It actually continuously serves to offset our federal deficit, earning more than $1 billion for the U.S. Treasury last year ó mostly through fees from foreign customers.
Itís easy to see why the Ex-Im Bank was reauthorized with overwhelming bipartisan support in the House and Senate in 2012. However, its charter again needs to be reauthorized. Just months before the current charterís expiration date, some politically motivated lawmakers have recently accused the Ex-Im Bank of interfering with the private market. This is simply not the case. Unlike other foreign agencies that subsidize certain companies, the Ex-Im Bank complements the private sector through loan guarantees that allow foreign buyers of U.S. goods to secure affordable private-sector funding.
The Ex-Im Bank also has an outstanding record of assessing risk, with an incredibly low default rate ó currently at 0.211 percent.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.