Why Ann Wagner Is Wrong to Attack Heritage Action

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Accountability? We don’t need no stinking accountability.

No, Ann Wagner didn’t actually say that. But her comments to a 2nd District Republican committee meeting on Tuesday gave at least one attendee the impression that Mrs. Wagner opposes the idea of conservatives holding Congress accountable.

Ann Wagner Attacks the Conservative Heritage Action

Rep. Ann Wagner accused the conservative Heritage Action for America of “pitting Republican against Republican” and “never attacking Dems” at the Republican meeting.

I’d like to remind Mrs. Wagner that Heritage Action keeps score on all members of Congress, not just Republicans. Also, the reason Heritage Action and its Sentinels focus their activism on Republicans is because we know the Democrats are a lost cause. Yelling at Democrats doesn’t do a damn thing. (I have direct experience on this. I co-founded an organization that did nothing but yell at Democrats from 2009 to 2012.)

We don’t pit Republicans against Republicans, Mrs. Wagner; we pit members of Congress against their own principles. We hold people accountable, not to our standards, but to the principles people like you campaigned on.

Heritage Action Advances the Policies of Reagan’s Favorite Think-Tank

While no single institution is the sole judge of what is conservative, the Heritage Foundation comes close. Heritage’s white papers were the foundation of the Reagan Revolution. Here are some examples:

With the arrival of the Reagan administration, the Heritage Foundation and other conservative foreign policy think tanks saw a political opportunity to significantly expand Carter’s Afghanistan policy into a more global “doctrine”, including U.S. support to anti-communist resistance movements in Soviet-allied nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. According to political analysts Thomas Bodenheimer and Robert Gould, “it was the Heritage Foundation that translated theory into concrete policy. Heritage targeted nine nations for rollback: Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Iran, Laos, Libya, Nicaragua, and Vietnam“.[5]

— Source: Wikipedia

And from Christian Science Monitor in 1984 writing about Heritage’s 1,100 page “Mandate for Leadership,” which was something like Reagan’s first administration blueprint:

Like a shadow government – but one with considerable clout – the conservative Heritage Foundation is at work throughout the Reagan administration. Its fingerprints can clearly be seen on the administration’s 1986 budget, now emerging from White House deliberations. And its access in recent days to top government officials, including Cabinet secretaries, has been unprecedented for a private organization.

Even the hardest of the hard left found Reagan’s policies looked like legislative or executive execution of Heritage policy papers:

Since the beginning of the Reagan Administration, the Heritage Foundation has had an incredible impact on Republican policies in America. The right-wing think tank founded by Paul Weyrich, Edwin Feulner and Joseph Coors is largely to blame for the conservative state we find the country in today.

And, as Richard Amen wrote on We the People blog:

According to conservative writer William F.Buckley, Jr, Reagan acted upon approximately sixty percent of the three volumes of “Mandates” awaiting him when he took office which is why his Presidency was about sixty percent successful.

It’s safe to say that no other institution or think-tank exercised as much influence over the Reagan Administration as did Heritage. Now why wouldn’t Mrs. Wagner want to touch base with Reagan’s favorite think-tank? That’s exactly the service Heritage Action provides her.

Heritage Action launched in 2010 to help conservative legislators stay true to those first principles. Heritage realized that papers don’t change the world–actions do. But without a leader like Reagan to drive Heritage’s idea into law, its research and policy papers were just Saturday afternoon reading for conservative policy wonks.

Heritage Action’s purpose was to remind self-described conservatives in Washington that we don’t win when we don’t differentiate. And that call to differentiate seems precisely what disturbs Mrs. Wagner about Heritage Action.

Export-Import Bank Is a Silly Hill to Die On

Tell me how Mrs. Wagner differentiates herself from Democrats on Export-Import Bank? Wagner and Democrat Claire McCaskill read from identical talking point memos when they spoke to a St. Louis Public Radio reporter. They both threw out the same laughably false “facts” about Ex-Im and jobs, Ex-Im and “level playing fields.” Ann Wagner asking Heritage to attack Dems on Ex-Im is like a soldier calling for mortar fire on his own position.

Mrs. Wagner continued with some “facts,” like saying Ex-Im “is about 13,000 jobs in district. Jobs in this district. It’s not about Boeing.”

Oh really? Perhaps Mrs. Wagner would show us the research supporting her claim that Ex-Im created 13,000 jobs in her district. Because those would be the only 13,000 jobs Ex-Im created according to a Congressional Research Service report:

A Congressional Research Service report has confirmed that Ex-Im shifts jobs; it does not create them: “Economists generally maintain… that subsidizing export financing does not add to the overall level of economic activity, and subsidizes foreign consumption at the expense of the domestic economy. [Therefore], promoting exports through subsidized financing…will not permanently raise the level of employment in the economy, but alters the composition of employment among various sectors… and performs poorly as a jobs creation mechanism.”

Wagner is also wrong when she tells people, “This is about leveling the playing field in the International arena, and I will always fight for jobs in the district.” Less and 1/3 of Ex-Im’s loans involve competing subsidies from foreign governments. And the largest recipient of Ex-Im loans, Boeing, has stated it doesn’t need Ex-Im.

As I pointed out in an earlier post on the matter, Ex-Im is not a huge program. It is not the worst example of corporate welfare and government interference in free markets. Instead, Ex-Im is an easy win for principled conservatives. A no-brainer that requires no action. It will just go away.

By defending Ex-Im, Mrs. Wagner has telegraphed how she will handle tougher corporate welfare issues. She will always back corporate welfare queens because they will always cry “jobs.” No facts, just slogans. And this is why I am voting for Bill Slantz for Congress on November 4.

I just don’t understand why Mrs. Wagner would choose the Ex-Im hill to die on?

Hey, Kettle: The Pot Is Calling

What’s more disheartening than the made-up facts was Mrs. Wagner’s silly attack on Heritage Action’s motives. Mrs. Wagner told the audience, which included some Heritage donors and Sentinels, “Heritage is just trying to raise money for itself.”


PSYCHOLOGICAL PROJECTION: A psychoanalytical theory, projection is the process whereby one subject believes they see attributes (both good and bad) in another. The theory views this tendency as a defense mechanism whereby unenviable or unpleasant traits, impulses or ideas are attributed to another. In this way, the projector is able to avoid the unpleasantness in themselves.

— Source: PROJECTION from Psychological Dictionary


Psychologists call it projection. In South St. Louis it was simply  “the pot calling the kettle black”.

Mrs. Wagner is one of the best-funded people in the House. She’s raised nearly $2 million in the current cycle despite running unopposed in her primary.

Here’s Ann Wagner’s fundraising vs. the House average:

Ann Wagner raises well more than the House average, yet she accuses a grassroots activist of taking positions for money. Source: OpenSecrets.org

Money doesn’t fall into a politician’s lap. She has to work for that money. And she does. Ann Wagner is known as one of the hardest working fundraisers in town. This one and Washington.

While Heritage Action does accept donations, fundraising is not high on its activity list. Accountability is. On that point, Mrs. Wagner seems as ill-informed as she is on the proper role of government and on the “conservative-ness” of the Export-Import Bank.

I realize that Mrs. Wagner has to defend her positions against critics like me. I wish she should do it without the use of fabricated “facts” and psychological projection.

And that, my friend, is why I am not voting for Ann Wagner this time around.


Note: This post has been updated. Poor writing in the earlier version seemed to diminish Ronald Reagan’s presidency. My apologies. It was totally just crappy writing and did not reflect my views. —wth

I Will Vote for Libertarian Bill Slantz for Congress

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Libertarians want to take over the world and leave you alone.

What a refreshing ambition!

A couple days ago, I wrote that I will not vote for Ann Wagner’s re-election in 2014. I arrived at that position after realizing that Mrs. Wagner and I share incompatible, mutually exclusive views on the proper relationship between government and people. She believes government should run markets. I believe government should make sure markets are fair.

Because free markets are central to a free people, I find Mrs. Wagner’s position intolerable and dangerous–a threat to free people.

In that post, I also said I was torn between voting for the Libertarian, Bill Slantz, and undervoting the US Congress race. I have decided to vote for Bill Slantz.

I need to point out that I am not a Libertarian. Neither am I a Republican. But I am a libertarian and a republican. (This won’t make sense to VB.NET programmers, but us C#/C++/Java/JavaScript folks will get it.) Some in the Wagner camp will be tempted to (or already have) lost their heads screaming, “Hennessy’s not a Republican! He’a s PROG!!!!!”

Horseshit. I’m the same person I’ve always been–for good or ill. I’m a hockey guy who wants to be left alone. Unless I’m at a bar, then let’s talk. Or if you want to send me a gift. I’m open to gifts. I’m still STRONGLY behind Ed Martin, Tom Schweich, Rick Stream, and Peter Kinder. I have an embarrassing man-crush on John Lamping (which I know will cause him pain and suffering. Sorry, Senator.) My Reagan Ranch calendar sits proudly above my computer–open to July 2014, but, hey, it’s only the 23rd of September. On November 4, I will punch the R on every election except one: US Congress, 2nd District.

Want to know why I decided to vote for Bill Slantz for Congress? I read Bill Slantz’s website pretty closely. The quotes below convinced me to vote for him:

After watching everything I cherish being compromised by big government mismanagement, I can no longer remain on the sidelines. Because I know that I can help solve rather than compound our current problems, I feel it’s my duty as a proud Missourian to do my part and represent my neighbors in Washington, D.C. This country was founded on the premise that our liberty is secured by limiting the size, scope and intrusiveness of government. Small step by small step we have wandered off that path until we can now look back and realize that we have lost our way. I am convinced that both Democrats and Republicans cannot and will not make the fundamental changes we need because they have far too much to gain by maintaining the status quo.

It’s virtuous for people to be compassionate or self-sacrificing when it’s voluntary. All virtue is lost when charity isn’t done voluntarily.

The Libertarian Party is for all who don’t want to push other people around and don’t want to be pushed around themselves. It’s a live and let live philosophy.

Now, Bill’s positions on issues and situations:

Border Security
The United States, like all sovereign nations, has an absolute right to secure its borders and forbid any foreign national to secretly enter or remain in this country. We should not tolerate anyone refusing to obey our laws regarding proper entry into this county. Border security, however, should not be confused with the related but separate issue of legal immigration, my position on which can also be found on here.

Business and Economy
Except for courts to sort out the protection of lives and property, governments should keep their hands out of business. Voluntary economic exchange is the only way; government intervention is not justified. Further, government interference in business on behalf of some citizens at the expense of others is inherently unjust.

Consumer Protection
In principle, federal safety regulation can and should be abolished in favor of market institutions analogous to Underwriters Laboratory certification. I say restrict the FDA oversight to safety, leaving efficacy up to the marketplace.

Criminal Justice
In a free society, crimes would be limited to aggression against persons and property, including fraud. So-called “victimless crime” laws are incompatible with liberty. Drug laws today are among the most destructive, counter-productive and anti-freedom laws on the books.

Those who wish wisely or foolishly to use drugs should be free to do so and those who wish to keep drug use off their property should similarly be free to do so. In this regard, the choice to use or not use is should be left up to wisdom in experience, moral ethical, and scientific. [You know where I stand.]

In an increasingly competitive global marketplace, it has never been more important to educate our citizens. Unfortunately, even as education spending has soared, further burdening an already overtaxed populace, our education results continue to disappoint and lag behind those of other countries. To reverse this dangerous trend, we need to liberate our educators from the entrenched governmental bureaucracy that has held back progress for far too long.

Elections and Politics
If the federal and state governments were limited to its few legitimate constitutional functions, politicians would not be able to bestow favors to special interests. Without just election processes, some politicians abuse their power and strip citizens of their inherent rights and liberties.

Environment and Energy
There should be a free market in energy without government subsidies or excessive regulation. If energy production causes demonstrable harm the producers should be subject to civil penalties.

Foreign Policy and National Security
Foreign intervention should only occur when a case can be made that the legitimate defensive and security interests of the United States are directly involved.

Freedom of Religion
Freedom of religion must be total and unqualified in the private sector. Government should not in any way discriminate in its own policies in terms of religion, and it should also get out of areas like education where it only creates needless religious controversies

Freedom of Speech
There should be no restrictions on free speech so long as it does not cause material or physical harm to others.

Gun Rights
The private ownership and use of firearms or other weapons in a non-invasive way is fully legitimate. Government regulation, licensing, and registration of guns should be abolished.

There should be a true free market in healthcare without government restrictions or excessive limitations. Consumers should be able to buy health insurance across state lines, without joining a group, and in a market not distorted by government incentives or subsidies.

I believe in open immigration for all who enter peacefully, do not pose a threat and seek to contribute to our society. I oppose any form of welfare benefits to those who entered the country illegally.

I am a strong believer that one of the government’s primary roles is to promote and support a robust infrastructure. Tax dollars can be appropriately spent on power projects, roadways and highways, telecommunications, water systems and many more of the “big ticket” grand projects that benefit us all.

Marriage and Family
The government should play no role in marriage. Consenting adults should be allowed to enter into a contract of civil union protected by contract law. If some wish to have “gay marriage” and others do not, each should be free to adopt the rules they consider appropriate so long as property rights are respected.

Medicare and Medicaid
Medicare and Medicaid, if needed at all, should be privatized. However, allowing local communities to build a support system to directly meet these needs is a better solution.

The military should be strong and state-of-the-art. It should be adequate to constantly defend against all enemies. All military duty should be voluntary. There should be no military draft.

Minimum Wage and Workers’ Rights
Wages should be set by the market. Workers should have the right to join, or not join, a union they choose without being subject to coercion of any kind. There should be no minimum wage.

Monetary Policy
Monetary policy should be determined by Congress and the issuance of money should be strictly regulated with direct congressional oversight. There is no role for a Federal Reserve. A system of private clearing houses and deposit insurance offers the finest protection and competition for safety against ruinous depressions and inflation.

National Security
Protecting our personal security and defending the nation against aggression and catastrophic incidents is a legitimate constitutional power and the burden of government at all levels.

The government should not engage in tracking or surveillance of citizens without a legal warrant. The Patriot Act should be repealed.

I am personally opposed to abortion and I would fight against any government funding of abortions.

Social Security
Social Security should be phased out entirely. Retirement should be a personal responsibility, not an opportunity for governmental intrusion into private matters.

The income tax should be eliminated. The alternative would be national, state and local sales taxes. This change will include mechanisms that will protect lower income families from an excessively burdensome level of taxation.

Trade and Globalization
Unilateral free trade is the best and simplest policy. Free trade, migration, and association are fully legitimate so long as property rights are protected in the process.

Could I tweak some of those positions? Sure. But I could tweak some Ronald Reagan positions and some William F. Buckley positions, too. I disagree with none of Bill’s positions. None. In fact, many of these positions I took in my 1993 book, The Conservative Manifesto. Since then, the conservative position has morphed. In 1993, I was mainstream. (The youngsters wouldn’t understand.)

What I would not tweak about Bill Slantz’s positions is this: he believes government is a tool of the people. His Republican and Democrat opponents seem to believe the people are tools of the government. On that simple difference, I must vote for Bill Slantz. And I hope you will, too. 

Next week, I’ll talk about a longer strategy for rescuing MO-2 from the corporate elite.


Beware Republicans Offering to “Clear the Decks”

Reading Time: 1

Why did the chicken cross the road?

To get to the lame duck.

You can’t trust the GOP establishment.

In case you missed it, the House GOP leadership pushed a Continuing Resolution to fund government through December. Now, these same GOP leaders will tell you they expect Republicans to take over the Senate in January. So why would they give Harry Reid a chance to use the lame duck Congress in December to pass an Obama-friendly long term CR?

“To clear the decks,” is the talking point the establishment will use.

In short, the House GOP and their corporate masters want to lock in special favors before a more conservative Congress takes over in 2015. As Obama told Medvedev about nuclear negotiations, the House GOP will have more flexibility on corporate welfare after the election.

If it walks like a lame duck and squawks like a lame duck, it probably wants to the clear the decks of free market thinking. Which is why I’m voting against Ann Wagner, and you should, too.

Why I Will Not Vote for Ann Wagner in 2014

Reading Time: 5 minutes

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224


The problem the Republican Party has, too many people are sitting around, waiting for a wave to take them across the election. If you want a wave, you have to paddle.

— Michael Needham, CEO, Heritage Action for America


Catch a wave and you’re sittin’ on top of the world.

— The Beach Boys


If most people are not willing to see the difficulty, this is mainly because, consciously or unconsciously, they assume that it will be they who will settle these questions for the others, and because they are convinced of their own capacity to do this.

— Friedrich August von Hayek

Ann Wagner Yanked Missouri’s 2nd District to the Left

The numbers are stunning.

Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District is one of the most conservative in the state. The seat held by Jim Talent and Todd Akin has long aligned with Heritage Foundation’s principled conservatism.

By replacing Todd Akin with Ann Wagner, 2nd District voters lurched the state hard to the left. How far left? Twenty-three percentage points left.

Source: Heritage Action for America

When the 112th Congress ended, Todd Akin sat at 82 percent on Heritage Action’s Scorecard. Right now, Ann Wagner’s score is 58. That’s below the Republican House average, and it’s miles beneath her district’s philosophical center.

Mrs. Wagner’s HA score would be respectable in certain districts in Maine, Michigan, or California. In Missouri’s 2nd, they’re disgraceful. I realize that Todd Akin was a liability for many reasons. But his consistent principled conservative voting wasn’t one of them. We might not want Akin back, but I would sure like a US Representative who will catch the wave instead of going with the elitist flow.

Export-Import Bank Was a Defining Issue

While Mrs. Wagner is reliably pro-life and an ardent defender of the 2nd Amendment, her philosophy of government is anything but Hayekian. Mrs. Wagner announced loud and clear her loud support for Export-Import Bank. I trust Mrs. Wagner to represent my views on several issues, most especially the paradoxical combination mentioned above: life and guns. I suppose she will agree with me on the First Amendment, as well. Beyond those three admittedly crucial issues, I suspect Mrs. Wagner represents the ruling class against the rest of us.

Export-Import Bank is particularly telling. First, because it is so small an issue, it would seem the easiest and least consequential for even a play-acting conservative to adopt the conservative line. The two companies that receive the lion’s share of Ex-Im largesse–Boeing and GE–would survive just as well without it. Boeing has stated such. Second, because Ex-Im is such an unmistakable symbol of anti-freedom, supporting the bank defines the person.

Ex-Im Bank Is Anti-Freedom

Hayek defined freedom as “the state in which man is not subject to coercion by the arbitrary will of another or others.” The Export-Import Bank exemplifies the condition opposite freedom: the state of currying favor of a bureaucrat. The bank chooses among competing companies those that will succeed and those that will fail. Companies wishing the advantage of this bureaucratic coercion grovel at the feet of government functionaries. Or give money to Congressmen. Companies that choose not to grovel put themselves in an economic disadvantage, sometimes ruining their business.

Grovelling before one’s master is hardly an act of freedom. It’s an act of slavery, and Ann Wagner wants to perpetuate that slavery.

While Mrs. Wagner and the US Chamber of Commerce like to point to specific companies that have thrived thanks to corporate welfare, they forget to mention those “successful” companies’ competitors who “failed” because government made the playing field uneven.

Because Export-Import Bank represents an opportunity for politicians to clearly state their political philosophy, we must accept Mrs. Wagner’s position as indicative of her philosophy. I now accept that Mrs. Wagner and I fundamentally disagree on what constitutes a just government. Fundamentally, not superficially. In other words, the kind of government Mrs. Wagner supports is the kind of government I want to erase.

Philosophy of Government Is an Organizing Principle of the Tea Party Movement

The two establishment parties have no central, organizing principle regarding a philosophy of government. Parties exist solely to maximize their own power through elections. We discern their philosophy by their actions, not their platforms. The GOP’s actions on Ex-Im and many other issues prove the party believes in government by a ruling elite.

It’s one thing to vote for Ex-Im out of fear. It’s another thing to publicly advance the idea that government should replace free markets. Mrs. Wagner is on the side of government and government-sanctioned corporations.

Because free markets is an organizing principle of a movement I had a hand in launching, I cannot vote for Ann Wagner until she demonstrates a free market bias.

Ann Wagner and the GOP Elite Missed a Huge Opportunity with Ex-Im

On a practical level, I’m a little shocked that Mrs. Wagner and the House Republican leadership passed this golden opportunity. That missed opportunity was best described by Dan Holler of Heritage Action in an LA Times article:

“They had a chance to have a federal agency expire right before an election and go back home and campaign that they ended corporate welfare,” he said.

I thought Mrs. Wagner and the GOP elite were, at least, opportunistic. The Ex-Im sell-out tells me they’re not. Instead, their winging it. With neither a philosophical core or a practical plan, Washington Republicans are simply selling out to the highest bidder. And that’s usually the US Chamber of Commerce.

On the other hand, that gives me some hope. Ann Wagner would be very difficult to defeat in either a primary or a general election. But we might be able to change her behavior on issues like Ex-Im. To do that, we need leverage.

We don’t have Boeing’s government-funded billions to throw around. We have our votes. If movement conservatives in the 2nd District vote Libertarian in November, or skip the US House vote altogether, we might be able to hold Wagner in the 50s. That would be a big step backwards from 2012 margin of 60-37.

A step back will put Wagner in a tough position for 2016. Democrats will be encouraged to take the race more seriously. Libertarians could also target the district. Wagner’s only choice would be to move to the right to solidify her base.

In other words, the only way to save Ann Wagner might be to vote against her this November.

My First non-Republican Vote for Congress. Ever.

In my post last week, I offered Mrs. Wagner the opportunity to reply. She has not. Therefore, we have to assume Mrs. Wagner agrees with my assertions, accepts my facts, and feels so strongly in her (non-)philosophy of government that she simply has moved on. Fine. That’s her prerogative.

I have a prerogative, too. And I choose to exercise my prerogative by stating that I will not vote for Mrs. Wagner’s re-election in 2014. I cannot vote for a person whose philosophy of government I find morally reprehensible and unjust.

I won’t vote for the Democrat in the race for precisely the same reason.

That leaves me two choices: skip that race on my ballot, or vote for Bill Slantz, the Libertarian Party candidate. I’ll work on that decision and let you know how it comes out, but, one way or the other, I’m swimming out to catch the wave.

In the meantime, I hope you will consider whether you can vote for a member of Congress who advances a philosophy of government that, in 1776, we utterly and formally rejected.

Here Are the Ex-Im Facts Ann Wagner and Claire McCaskill Don’t Want You to Know

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Rep. Ann Wagner’s Heritage Action Score is a disappointing 59. It’s about to drop even lower.

Last week, the Republican from Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District came out strongly in support of cronyism by endorsing and vowing to fight for extending the Export-Import Bank.

From Wagner’s interview with National Public Radio:

“There is some talk about a short-term reauthorization, perhaps six or seven months on Ex-Im,” she said. “I’d like it to be longer than that. I’d like to find a way for Ex-Im to have the proper reforms and be with us so that we can compete abroad for a long time.,” Wagner said.

For four years, now, Rep. Wagner has asked us to trust her when she tells us she’s a principled conservative. That trust is now broken.

She says that “Ex-Im is about jobs; thousands and thousands of jobs.” But research shows that Ex-Im has no discernible effect on jobs in America. Not only is trust broken, but her credibility is shattered, too.

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) joined Rep. Wagner in supporting Ex-Im, which then-Senator Barack Obama correctly described as a “fund for corporate welfare.” And Wagner wants us to trust her judgment?

Here are the facts on Export-Import Bank–facts Ann Wagner and Claire McCaskill don’t want you to know:


  • As a result of Ex-Im’s activity, taxpayer exposure will exceed $140 billion before the end of 2014.
  • According to the Congressional Budget Office, Ex-Im will cost taxpayers $2 billion over the next 10 years.


  • 98 percent of U.S. exports receive no assistance from Ex-Im.
  • Of those that do receive financing, 75 percent goes to only 10 multibillion dollar, multinational conglomerates (e.g. Boeing, General Electric).
  • Boeing alone received 66 percent of Ex-Im’s loan guarantees in 2013.
  • Should Ex-Im expire, Boeing would be perfectly capable of arranging alternative, private-sector financing for its exports, and its representatives have said so publicly.

Unilateral Disarmament?

  • In 2013, only $12.2 billion of Ex-Im’s $37.4 billion in total financing—less than one-third—was dedicated to counteracting subsidies from foreign export credit agencies.

Small Business Activity?

  • Congress requires that 20 percent of the dollar amount of Ex-Im’s authorizations go to small businesses; however, Ex-Im fails to meet this statute nearly every year.
  • Ex-Im’s definition of “small businesses” includes firms with as many as 1,500 workers and companies with revenues of up to $21.5 million annually.
  • Ex-Im provides export financing for just 0.009 percent of all small businesses in America.

Controversy and Credibility?

  • Ex-Im’s Inspector General has concluded that the bank ignores long-term economic impacts in its internal analyses.
  • Both the Government Accountability Office and the Inspector General have warned that Ex-Im’s “loan-loss rate” is unreliable and that the bank is not properly protected against waste, fraud and abuse.
  • In 2012, the Congressional Budget Office found that FCRA-based cost estimates, the kind that Ex-Im relies on, do not provide accurate accounting metrics, as they do not incorporate the full costs of the risk associated with the loans.
  • In 2013, Ex-Im authorized $630 million in Russia-related transactions, including $32 million to help build a petroleum refinery, supporting Russia’s energy sector at a time when the country is using its energy dominance to hold client states hostage to its agenda.
  • This year, former Ex-Im employee Johnny Gutierrez was fired amid allegations of accepting cash bribes in exchange for trying to help a Florida company obtain a loan guarantee.


  • A Congressional Research Service report has confirmed that Ex-Im shifts jobs; it does not create them: “Economists generally maintain… that subsidizing export financing does not add to the overall level of economic activity, and subsidizes foreign consumption at the expense of the domestic economy. [Therefore], promoting exports through subsidized financing…will not permanently raise the level of employment in the economy, but alters the composition of employment among various sectors… and performs poorly as a jobs creationmechanism.”

Subsidy Harm?

  • When Ex-Im bureaucrats hand out taxpayer-backed loans…
    • Unsubsidized domestic businesses must face competitors backstopped by a government guarantee
    • Subsidized domestic businesses grow lazy and complacent relying on federal assistance, and are further encouraged to use resources for lobbying rather than productive investment
    • Market actors are encouraged to make bad investments by the distortion of true opportunity cost
    • Consumers face higher prices, since subsidizing exports helps foreign consumers at the expense of domestic consumers

Political Climate?

  • In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama denounced Ex-Im on the campaign trail: “I’m not a Democrat who believes that we should defend every government program. There are some that don’t work like we had hoped…[like] the Export-Import Bank that has become little more than a fund for corporate welfare.
  • On September 30th, 2014, Ex-Im’s charter will expire and it will be unable to continue operating.

(Source: Heritage Action for America)

If we cannot trust Ann Wagner to take a principled stand against this small piece of Washington cronyism, how can we trust her to fight the really tough battles?

If we cannot trust Ann Wagner to tell the truth about Export-Import bank’s effect on jobs and the economy, how can we trust her to tell us the truth about other corporate welfare schemes?

If we cannot trust Ann Wagner to put principle ahead of K Street cronies, how can we trust her to represent us in Washington?

This isn’t about one small issue: this is about integrity, honesty, and philosophy of government. By her strong support of this “fund for corporate welfare,” Rep. Wagner has betrayed her own promises of principled conservatism. The people of her district deserve more respect and better representation.

I’ll let my questions to Rep. Wagner stew. Of course, she is welcome to answer them in the comments below. Over the next week or two, I will have to decide whether I can vote to extend Ann Wagner’s stay in Congress.

Why Municipal Courts Matter to Liberty

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I am embarrassed.

I am embarrassed that I didn’t know about this problem sooner. Or I heard about it and ignored it, which is even worse. Maybe I thought it was just the usual liberal whining about trumped up racial problems. Whatever, I should have listened.

On September 2, I asked a room of about 30 tea partiers, “Do you trust our justice system?” I heard a chorus of “No.”

The question’s context was municipal courts in the St. Louis area, but especially North St. Louis County municipalities.

If you’d like to volunteer to help with the Municipal Court Project, please fill out this form.


I called the meeting because of emails and blog comments I received after a few posts about Ferguson and the Buycott. The most disturbing of these reports came from Lee Presser, and he let me publish his account here.

The purpose of the meeting was to check the temperature of St. Louis Tea Partiers. I wanted to see if they, like me, considered abusive municipal courts a liberty issue.

They clearly do. Many of them, anyway.

So much has been written about St. Louis County’s horrible municipal court system, I won’t go into it here. Instead, I’ll ask you to read these documents in addition to Lee Presser’s story.

Instead, I want to make a brief case on why the liberty movement should attack this issue.

Rule of Law: Libertarians don’t believe in anarchy; we believe in maximum liberty within a well-ordered, effective society. When elected and non-elected government officials abuse the law, the rule of law breaks down. How can we say we stand for the rule of law yet cast a blind eye to authoritarian abuses of the law right in our own county?

Respect for the Law: We expect citizens to respect the law–law enforcement officers, contracts, the legal system. We profess to believe that just laws are necessary to protect everyone’s rights to life, liberty, and property. But when one or more of the pieces of that legal system become abusive of the people in its jurisdiction, respect for the law naturally breaks down. People come to see the system as hypocritical, with different rules for different classes of people.

Respect for Human Beings: Libertarians believe that free, conscientious people better care for each other than a cold bureaucracy. So how can we not stand up for our fellow citizens whose lives enter a downward spiral on their first encounter with abusive municipal courts?

Unnecessary Governments: Libertarians believe in the minimum amount of government necessary to maintain order. But St. Louis County has over 90 municipalities, each with its own unique and complicated system of ordinances, fines, and courts. While these municipalities are not hierarchical, they make it almost impossible for a person to know the law as he traverses St. Louis County. Some municipalities seem to count on this confusion of laws to extract expensive fines from unwary commuters and residents.

Conditioning People for Authoritarianism: Some have said that grassroots activists are more effective working on national issues than on local ones. I understand the threat posed by an abusive Washington government, but I believe abusive local governments condition people for subservient acceptance of authoritarian rule. If the stories exposed in the WaPo article and Arch City Defenders are true, a large portion of St. Louis County residents live in fearful submission to tyrannical local governments. If we who never experienced Lee Presser’s nightmare in Bel-Ridge are fearful of Washington’s power, imagine how mighty Washington seems to those who live in fear of their own local authorities?

Local First: The same argument that we are better suited to take on Washington than local municipalities seems illogical to me. If we cannot affect change in a city of 5,000 like Pine Lawn, we’re insane to think we could affect the national government of 320 million people.

I’m sure you can think of even more reasons why the liberty movement should be involved in fighting these tyrannical municipal courts. Please share your thoughts below.

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