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Mr. NELSON of Florida. Madam President, before the Senator from Louisiana leaves the floor, I just want to say that this issue is very simply characterized as Main Street versus Wall Street. It is a question of whether we are serious about reviving this economy and getting money into the hands of small business through community banks. Anybody voting no on a motion to invoke cloture to go to a bill that is ready to be embraced is inexcusable.
This legislation is critical to getting small businesses back on their feet. That is certainly the case in my State of Florida. It gets the credit flowing again on Main Street through the community banks.
The statistics about small business and jobs is all too familiar. Small businesses create most of the jobs in this country. In the last 15 years, they have created 12 million jobs or two-thirds of the American jobs that have been created. When the economy falters, guess who takes it on the chin the hardest? Small business does. Over the past couple of years, small firms have accounted for between 64 and 80 percent of net job losses. So it is time for us to step up and help them.
For example, in Florida, small businesses play an even bigger role in the local economy. According to the Small Business Administration, small business employers account for 99 percent of the State's employers and provides for nearly half of the State's private sector jobs. Just when it looked as though things could not get worse for small businesses--and especially so in our State--along came the tragic explosion of the Deepwater Horizon platform, and our seasonally adjusted unemployment was 12 percent, representing in our State 1.1 million people out of work in a labor force of 9 million.
We have not yet gauged the full impact of that oil spill on Florida's economy, but there is ample evidence that it is the small businesses that are the ones that have been hurt the worst and the ones who have had to lay off the jobs as a result of that oil spill.
There was a study done by Dun & Bradstreet that found that the impact of the spill on Florida tourism, boating, and fishing industries--these businesses located along the gulf coast--is going to affect 46,000 businesses, with almost 300,000 employees and $14 billion in sales volume. One of the key features of this legislation and another main reason why we need to pass it is that Small Business Lending Fund. It sets up the voluntary capital investment program, under which the Treasury Department can purchase up to $30 billion in equity from small banks, those whose total assets fall under $10 billion. Although the fund is set at $30 billion, conservative estimates indicate it will lead to $300 billion in new small business lending. This is the economic shot in the arm that so many States need, including ours. I cosponsored the amendment that was added to this overall small business bill that put the lending facility back in the bill.
It is an overlooked feature of the legislation that it actually provides $56 billion in tax relief for small businesses over the next couple years. Upfront tax relief comes in the form of early tax writeoffs for investments in new equipment, new machinery, and new construction. That is all a part of this small business bill. Together with the tax breaks, the targeted tax incentives, and the lending fund, we have a package that is exactly the type of relief small businesses need today. We need to jump-start them and that is what this bill accomplishes.
Obviously, as the Senator from Louisiana has already said, this bill has very wide support. I underscore the Independent Community Bankers of America, and 29 State community banking associations have urged approval of this plan. So does the American Bankers Association, the National Small Business Association, the National Association for the Self-Employed, the Small Business Majority, the National Bankers Association, and the Conference of State Bank Supervisors.
I have heard from many constituents--including small business owners, bankers, chambers, entrepreneurs--who believe this legislation is needed. I am proud to cosponsor it.
I ask unanimous consent to join as a cosponsor of the Baucus-Landrieu substitute amendment because I think it is the right thing to do and the right thing for our State.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. NELSON of Florida. It is my hope we can pass this substitute amendment without further opposition as we are continuing to see.
I yield the floor.
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