Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks this evening at a networking reception hosted by the National Association of Women Business Owners and the Association of Women's Business Centers. Below are the Speaker's remarks as prepared for delivery:
"Thank you, Cynthia McClain-Hill, for that kind introduction and for the honor of NAWBO's Advocate Award. Cynthia, Helen Han, and indeed all NAWBO members are tremendous advocates on behalf of American entrepreneurship. You are helping to lay the groundwork for the success of individual women business owners and ensure prosperity for all Americans.
"I come here tonight to pay tribute to NAWBO's 35 years of propelling women business owners toward success. Your efforts are essential to our economy, and indeed our entire nation. By 2018, women small business owners will create more than 5 million new jobs. In Congress, we must help give you the tools you need to succeed.
"Health insurance reform supports your entrepreneurial efforts and makes America more competitive. The bill itself will create 4 million new jobs. And it will unleash even more jobs because health care reform gives you freedom to change jobs or be self-employed. And no longer is being a woman a pre-existing medical condition! I appreciate NAWBO's support for the aspects of health care reform that will lower the cost of insurance for Americans.
"As you know best, providing health insurance to your employees has become more and more expensive. Insurance costs for small businesses have increased 129 percent since 2000.
"Health insurance reform will make coverage affordable for many small businesses. It provides $40 billion in tax credits to help them offer employee health insurance coverage -- if they choose to do so. More than 60 percent of small employers, or more than 4 million firms, will be eligible for these credits. In 2014, reform creates Health Insurance Exchanges, where small businesses and their employees can purchase affordable coverage. For the first time, small businesses will be able to pool their buying power and have access to the same quality plans only available to larger firms today.
"You have come to Washington as Congress prepares to pass legislation to foster more lending to America's small businesses -- the backbone of our economy. We know that you are concerned about the lack of capital for businesses. The FDIC recently reported that over the past seven quarters there has been a dramatic decrease in the amount of lending throughout the country. You have felt it firsthand.
"The Small Business Lending Fund Act, which will be on the floor next week, will encourage community banks to increase lending by providing additional capital. As a result, small businesses on America's main streets will be better able to grow and create jobs. In addition to the Lending Fund, the House will also create a new initiative to spur innovative new businesses through public-private partnership and provide essential tax breaks to small businesses such as an exclusion of capital gains and an increase in the deduction for critical start-up expenses. This Congress is committed to fostering economic opportunity for small businesses in a variety of ways to ensure you have the tools to keep our economy growing.
"Thank you, NAWBO, for your focus on women entrepreneurs and small businesses for 35 years. In the evolution of an idea to a small business to an entrepreneurial success, NAWBO is there every step of the way. In Congress, you have friends and partners. Thank you!"