Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill returned Friday to her alma matter, the University of Missouri, and engaged in a frank, sometimes feisty discussion with students.
In a talk at MU’s Trulaske College of Business, the Democratic senator warned against the dangers of polarization and spoke about the importance of finding common ground. But she also blasted Republican efforts to shut down the Export-Import Bank of the United States and voiced strong concerns about Missouri’s lenient campaign finance laws.
The Export-Import Bank was created under the New Deal to help facilitate the sale of U.S. goods to foreign customers who can’t find the credit to do so. Critics of the bank say that it causes too much government interference in the market and allows the government to choose winners and losers. Republicans leading the charge against the bank also say that other creditors, not the U.S. Government, should take on loans made by buyers.
The bank turned a $1 billion profit last year, supports more than 205,000 jobs and lent $37.4 billion to creditors in 2013, according to its annual report.
“This is not taxpayers providing subsidies. This is not crony capitalism,” McCaskill said. “This is a tool for American manufacturing, to allow them to compete in a global marketplace. The taxpayers are not supporting this — just the opposite.”
Bloomberg reported this week that House Republicans were considering a nine-month extension of the bank’s charter to prevent a partial government shutdown after Sept. 30.
McCaskill took time during her hour-long appearance to turn her focus closer to home, blasting Missouri’s lack of campaign finance regulations. “Missouri,” she said, “is unbelievable.”
“I think the thing that’s hardest for me after Citizens United (v. FEC) is that we don’t know who’s buying the ad,” she added. “It’s the secret money that’s so insidious.”
The senator also called for increased transparency and regulation of prescription drugs in Missouri, pointing out that it’s the only state without a statewide prescription database.
McCaskill finished by telling students to do things that take them out of their comfort zones.
“Seek people who are of a different political persuasion of you. I really think this whole notion of clinging to people who are like you stymies your ability to grow,” she said. “If you’re not constantly learning and trying to adjust what you see in the world and how you see it, then what you see is going to be pretty limited, and for people in business that can be a fatal mistake.”