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Congressman Tom McClintock

Representing the 4th District of California

HR 2548 - OPIC Reauthorization

May 7, 2014

HR 2548 – OPIC Reauthorization
May 7, 2014


Mr. Speaker:

One of the biggest complaints I hear is the practice of forcing taxpayers to underwrite the losses and risks of politically well-connected companies.  THEY reap the profits while American taxpayers pay for their losses.  

Today, the House considers a bill that perpetuates this policy with the objective of creating jobs – not in America, but overseas.  Quietly tucked into this bill is a provision to reauthorize the Overseas Private Investment Corporation – or OPIC – for another three years.

OPIC provides political risk insurance, loan guarantees and direct loans to U.S. Companies for their overseas investments – making U.S. taxpayers responsible for their losses.

Recent beneficiaries include the Ritz Carlton in Istanbul, Citibank branches in Pakistan, Jordan and Egypt and a Sun Edison solar farm in South Africa. 

According to the Congressional Research Service this does nothing to help our economy.  

We’re told it doesn’t cost taxpayers because recent losses have been minimal and covered by fees.  I remember similar assurances about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Such assurances are good only until they’re not good.  

The taxpayer exposure is monumental – and growing.  

This measure directs OPIC “to prioritize investment in the sub-Saharan electricity sector.”  Yet one company doing so, Symbion, recently warned the Senate that it was owed $70 million at the end of February by utilities in just one African country.

Reviewing OPIC’s $10 billion portfolio in Africa, the Center for Global Development reported that if the money had been used for natural gas plants rather than renewables, an additional 60 million people could have had electricity.  But that’s not politically correct.

OPIC pays for the bad business decisions of large corporations AND underwrites job creation abroad, all at the expense of hard-working American taxpayers.   

What’s not to like about that?