Tonight from the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) urged her colleagues to support the Small Business Lending Fund proposed by President Obama to get capital moving to small businesses and stimulate local economies. The Small Business Lending Fund would leverage $300 billion in private sector small business lending with a $30 billion public investmentthat would be entirely repaid to the federal Treasury. The government funds would encourage lending by banks with under $10 billion in assets. All the money would be returned to the federal government, and Cantwell said official estimates indicate the government could end up reducing the deficit by $1.1 billion through this program.
"When are we going to stand up for small businesses in America who have had trouble getting access to this capital, who have been penalized?" Senator Cantwell said in remarks on the Senate floor. "What they want to know is, if they didn't cause this mess, how is it that when it came to the big banks, everybody said, "Yup, here's the opportunity for you,' everybody said, "Here's the keys to the Treasury, here's all the money.' But now, when it comes to making sure that community banks are lending to small businesses, people are saying, "No, Main Street doesn't have the same priority as Wall Street. Small business is asking for an effective lending program through the community banks. That's all they're asking for, and we gave Wall Street a bailout, without any terms and conditions for repayment."
Cantwell tonight joined a coalition of senators led by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), chair of the Senate Small Business Committee, in proposing an amendment that would add the small business lending fund to a broader small business assistance bill being taken up this week by the Senate. Landrieu said the measure faces a Republican blockade, but has the support of the entire Senate Democratic caucus.
There are 28 million small businesses in America, with 50 percent of Americans either owning or working for a small business. Cantwell, who opposed the Wall Street bailout, said three-quarters of new job growth in America comes from small businesses.
The following are links to more information on the Small Business Lending Fund.
· A one-pager on why the Small Business Lending Fund is not the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)
· A list of statements in support of the Fund
· A one-pager on key points on unmet demand for credit.