Republicans in Congress and GOP presidential hopefuls are threatening tens of thousands of small business jobs by seeking to cut a little-known government agency that guarantees loans to help U.S. exporters, Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday.
Clinton said during a round-table discussion at Smuttynose Brewery that Congress should renew financing for the Export-Import Bank. She argued the GOP is risking up to 164,000 jobs supported by the bank.
The Democratic front-runner said Republicans in the 2016 presidential campaign would rather threaten those jobs rather than “stand up to the tea party and talk radio.”
Clinton toured the brewery and joined with small business owners during her second trip to New Hampshire since announcing her presidential campaign.
As she did so, the State Department released thousands of pages of emails as part of a congressional probe over the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans. Republicans are seeking additional testimony on the investigation from Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time.
Conservative Republicans have sought to eliminate the Export-Import Bank, arguing it gives the government too big a role in helping some large American companies sell products overseas at the expense of others. Among its major beneficiaries are Boeing and General Electric.
Clinton said she learned as secretary of state that the U.S. was in a global competition for business and the notion that Congress would eliminate “this relatively small but vital” agency is “absolutely backwards.”
At the brewery, Clinton spoke about her wish for regulations to be loosened on community banks to ease lending to small businesses.
Joanne Francis, Smuttynose’s co-owner, said it was a “white-knuckle ride” securing loans and other money to start the brewery and open a new operations facility in 2015. “It was terrifying, to be honest with you,” Francis said.
But Clinton criticizes Republicans for wanting to roll back regulations on the types of large financial institutions that contributed to the 2008 economic crisis. She said Republicans were holding a community banking overhaul hostage to their attempt to overturn the 2010 financial regulation law known as Dodd-Frank.
“We should build on Dodd-Frank, not undermine it,” Clinton said, surrounded by stacked kegs and boxes of craft beer.
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the Senate Banking Committee chairman, has introduced legislation to give banks with assets of more than $50 billion a chance to avoid tighter supervision. Some Democrats say regulatory relief should be limited to credit unions and smaller community banks.
Clinton is planning events in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, New Mexico, Texas and Connecticut before speaking June 13 at the first major rally of her campaign.