Consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader called for the end of the Export-Import Bank in an exclusive interview today with The Daily Signal.

“I think it needs to be abolished, and if there is a legitimate need for export markets for U.S. products, there’s plenty of money in the private sector to provide for loans,” Nader told The Daily Signal.

Nader cited the 80-year-old federal agency as an example of the growing power that big business has over government and said the “secretive” bank perpetuates the “too big to fail” narrative.

“What [cronyism] amounts to is extraordinary power over government agencies and departments to turn their mission into a corporate capitalist guaranteed system,” Nader said.

The consumer rights pioneer and four-time presidential hopeful spoke out against cronyism and corporate welfare — which opponents associate with the Export-Import Bank — at an event promoting his new book, “Unstoppable,” at the Cato Institute. His book calls for an alliance between libertarians, conservatives, and progressives to combat the growing ties between big business and government.

>>> At Least 74 Cases of Fraud and Corruption at Ex-Im Bank Since 2009

The charter for the Ex-Im Bank, which provides taxpayer-backed loans to foreign companies and countries to buy U.S. products, expires Sept. 30 unless Congress acts to save the agency. But many conservatives in the Republican-led House indicate they have no plans to reauthorize Ex-Im.

Opponents of the bank, led by Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, argue it furthers cronyism and corporate welfare. Proponents view Ex-Im as a boon to small businesses and job creation, saying it helps small companies remain competitive in the global market.

After his speech at Cato, Nader told The Daily Signal the bank should be abolished and warned that government financing for big companies such as Boeing and General Electric reinforces the “too big to fail” mantra.

During the speech, Nader said:

I use the word corporate capitalism to contrast the capitalism we associate with small business who, if they don’t succeed, they’re free to go bankrupt. And big business, if it doesn’t succeed because of mismanagement, crime, or other irregularities, they go to Washington.

If big businesses do go bankrupt, he said, it immediately becomes “tied to a government bailout.”

>>> A Taxpayer’s Guide: Export-Import Bank Under Microscope at House Hearing

Tim Carney, columnist for The Washington Examiner, joined Nader at Cato and said allowing Ex-Im’s charter to expire would be a notable defeat of corporate cronyism:

Before the last month, nobody ever heard of the Export-Import Bank. … These are things that if people cared about and knew about, I think they would say it’s a bad idea for U.S. taxpayers to be forced to subsidize Boeing’s sales to the Chinese government.

President Obama joins Democrats and at least 40 House Republicans in advocating that the bank be reauthorized by the end of September.

If the House fails to pass a bill reauthorizing the agency, thus allowing the charter to expire, the Department of Treasury could assume jurisdiction over Ex-Im. Should that occur, the bank would continue to oversee existing loans but lack the authority to enter into new contracts.

  • Kelsey Harkness and Monica Sanchez of  The Daily Signal produced the video accompanying this report.