STIMULUS PACKAGE REPORT -- (Senate - February 13, 2009)
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Mr. CARDIN. It is interesting my friend from Arizona mentioned small business, because this morning on my way into the Capitol--I go home every night to Baltimore--I had a meeting with small business leaders in Prince George's County. We noticed this a couple days ago. The room was overflowing. These small business owners want us to take action to help them. Minority businesses, women-owned businesses, veterans' businesses--they want to see bold action because they are hurting. Their businesses are hurting. They are having a difficult time getting credit. They are using their credit cards for credit because they can't get SBA loans and credit from banks.
In this legislation, there is help for small business procurement from the Federal Government. There are provisions in this legislation that will make it easier for them to get 7(a) loans and 504 loans by eliminating the cost so it would be less expensive for small businesses.
The bottom line is that the American people are looking for us to take bold action, to give our new President the tools he needs to get our economy back on track.
In Maryland we have lost jobs, as has the rest of the country. Nationwide we have lost over 600,000 jobs last month, over a million jobs in the last 2 months. Foreclosures are at record numbers. Businesses are closing their doors. Consumer confidence is at an all-time low. We need to take action.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will create jobs. In my State, it is estimated to be 66,000. It will provide tax relief for 2.2 million Marylanders of $800. It will provide for the American opportunity tax credit for 253,000 Marylanders which will help them pay for college education. It will increase unemployment insurance for 242,000 Marylanders who are on unemployment by $100 a month. It will help modernize 138 schools in my State.
Nationwide we will double the renewable energy capacity of America. We will computerize medical records which will make it safer for patients and less expensive. We will build roads and bridges, the most expansive public infrastructure efforts literally since President Eisenhower.
I am pleased that the final bill includes the Mikulski amendment that will help auto sales by allowing taxpayers to deduct the cost of the sales tax. I am appreciative that the committee included an amendment I offered with Senator Ensign to expand the homeowners credit for first-time home buyers, introduced last year to make it a true credit of $7,500 and to extend that through November of this year. That will help home sales. It was the housing market that triggered the current recession. That is an important issue. It will restore consumer confidence in home buyers. I am pleased to see that was included.
I am pleased to see the amendment I offered for small business, for surety bonds to make it easier for small businesses to get surety bonds, increasing the limit from 2 million to 5 million for construction companies to get help from SBA to get the surety bonds so they can get part of this procurement.
This underlying bill provides for significant opportunities to create jobs now in which small businesses will participate and be the driving engine for creation of new jobs in our country. That is how it should be. We need to take action in order to expand job opportunity now and make the type of investments so America can compete in the future. There is accountability. There is transparency in this legislation.
I have confidence that we will pull out of this recession. America will continue its economic strength. But let us give the tools to President Obama that he needs so we can answer that person who talked to me this morning, the small business owner who has to use personal credit cards in order to get a loan to keep the business open, because he can't get a loan from the bank even though he is creditworthy. We need to provide the type of economic stimulus to our economy to create the type of jobs now to fill the void to make sure America can compete in the future.
I yield the floor.
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