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Bernie Sanders has yet to speak publicly against Export-Import Bank in 2014

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Message John Brock

Despite authoring a 2002 article denouncing the Export-Import Bank, Senator Sanders has yet to speak publicly about it in 2014

Official Congressional Portrait of Bernie Sanders
Official Congressional Portrait of Bernie Sanders
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Dear Senator Sanders,

As one of the most progressive members of Congress, you have continually served as an inspiration to progressive-minded people by standing up to anti-progressive forces regardless of whether they come from the Republicans or the Democrats. For instance, you:

- Voted against the confirmation of corporatist, tax-dodger Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary in 2009, as well as Jack Lew, Obama's second term Treasury Secretary

- Opposed the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and also voted to end the program, despite the pleas of loud-mouths from both parties

- Stood up against so-called "free trade agreements" under Republican and Democratic administrations alike, and there is little doubt that you will do the same with regard to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, currently being negotiated by the Obama administration

- Voted against the confirmation of John "Drone Warfare" Brennan to be CIA Director in 2013

- Filibustered the late 2010 "bipartisan compromise" that gave the Republicans everything they wanted -- ALL Bush tax cuts extended for two years at a cost of $800 billion

- Have repeatedly and consistently denounced any notion of a "grand bargain" between Democrats and Republicans that would gut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid

It is for those reasons that it is so troubling that you have yet to speak publicly against the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, a slush fund whereby the federal government (i.e. taxpayers) helps already-profitable companies export their products by providing loans that the private sector will not provide. Though there is minimal doubt that you will vote against a stand-alone reauthorization bill because you voted against it in 2012, your silence on the matter is distressing on multiple fronts:

Firstly, despite the fact that the Export-Import Bank has been in the news quite often lately, you have not clearly stated your opposition to its reauthorization. Were you to publicly speak out against it, you could make your colleagues in the Democratic Senate Caucus at least consider just why it should continue, and thus, whether it should even exist. You might even get some Democratic Senators to join you in opposing its reauthorization, perhaps even enough to block it, as opposed to quietly being the only non-Republican vote against it (in either the House or Senate), as was the case in 2012.

Secondly, as The Hill has reported, Senate Democrats may tie the reauthorization bill to an otherwise unrelated continuing resolution bill funding the government as a means to get 'yes' votes, thereby forcing members to choose between corporate welfare and a government shutdown. Your speaking up and saying that you refuse to be a 'yes' vote under those circumstances could go a long way. Though no one expects you, as one Senator, to single-handedly change the outcome, you could at least provide a voice to progressives who oppose renewal on the basis of opposing corporate welfare. In so doing, you would be clearly stating your refusal to play stupid partisan games that both major parties have a history of playing.

If Senate Democrats were not so insistent on continuing the corporate welfare of the Ex-Im Bank, they would offer two separate bills, for two unrelated issues: one to keep the government funded, and another to renew the Export-Import Bank. Rather, they are tempting fate and using the threat of a government shutdown as a means to please corporations who demand government assistance in exporting their products. Do not fall into this trap. If there is a government shutdown over the Ex-Im Bank, it will not be your fault even if you vote 'no;' it will be the fault of the Democratic leadership for bringing the bill to the floor in such a sloppy manner, and their loyalties to big corporations will be laid bare.

As the only real opposition to the reactionary policies of the Republicans, you have an obligation to stand up to corporatist policies even when they are espoused by Democrats. Though opposing Ex-Im Bank reauthorization is unlikely to make for good relations with Senate Democrats, shutdown or not, the American people are capable of seeing through the mudslinging and lies, and will know that your intentions are in the right place, which is far more than can be said for the Senate Democrats and Republicans.

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John Brock holds a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's degree in city planning. His writing interests include American politics, the U.S. Congress, anti-war activism, health care, civil liberties, and economic democracy. He (more...)

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