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Mr. KERRY. Madam President, the Senate is on the verge of passing the Small Business Jobs Act which has been many months in the making and has been debated on the Senate floor for numerous weeks. I commend Senators REID, BAUCUS, and LANDRIEU for their tenaciousness in pursuing this legislation. It is essential we help small businesses attain the investment and capital necessary to create jobs and grow our economy.
Small business growth is critical to restoring our economy. Over the past 15 years, small businesses have created two-thirds of all new jobs. Unfortunately, small businesses have been hit hard by the recession--losing more than 6 million jobs since December 2007. The Small Business Jobs Act provides the long overdue assistance to small businesses that will help create as many as 500,000 new jobs.
To assist small business owners and their employees, the Small Business Jobs Act will create jobs through a combination of much-needed tax credits, enhancements to Small Business Administration, SBA, lending programs, and the development of new community bank lending facilities.
I am very pleased this legislation will extend the successful loan enhancement provisions that Senator Schumer and I successfully included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The bill extends the provisions in the economic stimulus to increase the SBA guarantee rate to 90 percent and reduces fees on small business 7(a) and 504 loans obtained through the SBA. These provisions have supported more than $30 billion in lending to small businesses across the country and helped create or retain more than 710,000 jobs. SBA lending in Massachusetts has nearly doubled in the past year as a result of this program.
As the former chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, I have been a long time advocate of small businesses and appreciate the role they play in our economy. The Small Business Jobs Act includes provisions that I have worked on for several years.
The loan increases included in the bill build upon my legislation from last Congress. With 7(a) loan limits increased from $2 million to $5 million and 504 loans from $1.5 million to $5.5 million, small businesses will be better able to expand and meet their financial needs for sustainability and growth.
The Small Business Jobs Acts expands upon the small business capital gains provision included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The bill temporarily increases the small business capital gains exclusion from 75 percent to 100 percent and eliminates the AMT preference.
Back in 1993, I worked with Senator Bumpers to enact legislation to exclude half of capital gains from the sale of small business stock that is held for 5 years. The bill before us expands on this provision.
I have also worked with Senator Ensign on a provision included in this legislation that would remove cell phones and other similar devises from the definition of listed property so their cost can be deducted or depreciated like other business property, without onerous recordkeeping requirements.
In 1989, Congress passed a law which added cell phones to the definition of listed property under the Internal Revenue Code. Back in 1989, cell phone technology was an expensive technology worthy of detailed log sheets. Only a few top executives had cell phones. At that time, it was difficult to envision cell phones that could be placed in a pocket or handbag. Congress was skeptical about the daily business use of cell phones.
With technology changing rapidly and many people owning a cell phone and a blackberry, a strict substantiation requirement to determine personal use is burdensome, inefficient, and administratively impracticable given their frequent use in a fast-paced global environment. The Tax Code should keep pace with technological advances. There is no longer a reason that cell phones and mobile communication devices should be treated differently than office phones or computers.
Investing in small businesses is essential to turning around the economy. Not only will investment in small business spur job creation, it will lead to new technological breakthroughs. This bill is long overdue and I am pleased that it is close to becoming a reality. I urge all my colleagues to support this critical legislation for our economy.
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