We must put small business back to work in America

I thank Senator Landrieu very much for her leadership as chair of the Small Business Committee. She has put in countless hours working with the national small business community and asking what the key obstacles are and how we can help to address them. The result is a list of endorsements from I would say just about every organization in the United States.

This list has grown as we have been debating this bill. This list has grown while we were out talking to our small businesses back home. I was astounded when my staff put it into my hands today because it is no longer one page, as it was earlier in our conversations. It is no longer two pages, but page after page of fine print from every organization, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the American Bankers Association, the Hotel and Lodging Association, the American Farm Bureau, the National Association of Realtors, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the National Restaurant Association, the Independent Community Bankers of America. If you know of an organization that works with small businesses in America, it is on this list. It is phenomenal.

Why have all these groups–more than I have ever seen on any bill–said they support this small business jobs bill? Well, I will tell you why: Because this bill is targeted at putting small business back in gear as the job factories of America.

I was just back home and I completed my annual set of town halls in 36 counties. So, I have been all over the state of Oregon. I have heard from independent businesses, small businesses on the coast – I have heard from businesses in Central Oregon and Southern Oregon and the valley, and everywhere people said: We need access to credit; we can’t seize a business opportunity that is right in front of us because we can’t get the credit necessary to seize that opportunity. And they want to know what is going on.

In some cases, perhaps a bank is a little bit nervous, having gone through and weathered this national economic meltdown. But in many cases our Main Street banks are at the limit they are allowed to lend based on their current capitalization, and so they will say: Well, the FDIC is enforcing the rules on leverage and we can’t do additional lending.

Well, this bill addresses that. This bill, through the Small Business Lending Fund, increases the capitalization of Main Street banks. Those are healthy Main Street banks. It allows them to basically increase lending to small business on a 10-to-1 ratio. So that means that $30 billion in recapitalization for Main Street America can climb to $300 billion of lending to small businesses so they can then seize those opportunities and put America back to work. That is the power of the Small Business Lending Fund that is in this bill.

But that is not all that is in this bill. There is in this bill the ability to have 100 percent of capital gains written off so you can basically move your assets to seize another opportunity without having to pay a tax on the sale of the assets you have right now. This has a 5-year carryback on business credit so that if you can’t use those credits this year because your business is down, you can use them against earlier profits, and that means a reduced tax bill. This has an extension of bonus depreciation, which is very helpful. This bill has the Jumpstart Act, which says if you are a small business just getting started, then your original startup cost deduction is doubled.

Taken together, this bill is about putting small business to work in America. I can’t imagine why we wouldn’t have 100 votes on the floor of this Chamber, 100 votes to put small business back on track. Sometimes legislation is regional — we will do a little bit that affects an industry in the Northwest or in the South or maybe it is for the West Coast — but there is nothing regional about this bill. Last I checked, small businesses are the heart of every town, city, and rural area of the United States. So this puts people back to work and strengthens the economy in every part of America. That is why the list of endorsements goes on page after page after page.

My colleague from Washington State is going to continue to share her observations, so I will yield to her, but I want to conclude by saying this is the type of problem-solving legislation that is needed in America, where rather than looking to an election down the road and political positioning, we do the hard work of investigating the obstacles and then we proceed to design legislation to remove those obstacles, and that puts a job back in every community in America. That puts a lot of jobs back in every community in America, and every job is the foundation for a family.

I can tell you that the unemployment rate in Oregon is absolutely unacceptable. Families are hurting, and the loss of a job on top of a loss to the value of their house and often the loss of their retirement savings. This starts to turn America around. It is time to pass this act, and I encourage all of my colleagues to vote early, vote ‘yes’, and let’s put America back to work.