U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) today said thousands of Washington state small businesses stand to gain from a key Senate victory for the Small Business Jobs Act (HR 5297), a measure expected to create hundreds of thousands of jobs nationwide. Overcoming weeks of Republican stalling tactics, the Senate voted to end the minority party's filibuster, clearing the way for final passage later this week. With similar legislation moving in the House, the bill is expected to be on its way to President Obama soon. Senator Cantwell, a member of the Senate Small Business and Senate Finance Committees, played a key role during drafting and floor debate. The bill is designed to create hundreds of thousands of jobs through a $30 billion small business lending fund and $12 billion in small business tax incentives. While today's 61-37 vote makes clear a filibuster-proof majority supports the measure, bill opponents continue to use pointless parliamentary tactics to delay final Senate passage until Thursday.
This morning, Senator Cantwell joined Sens. Mary Landrieu, Barbara Boxer, and Jeff Merkley, as well as Gene Sperling of the U.S. Treasury Department, John Arensmeyer of Small Business Majority, Frank Knapp of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, and small business owners in discussing the importance of passing the legislation. Video of the press conference is available here.
"This is not about the November election. This is about righting a wrong that was done to small business when Wall Street took Main Street down and cut off access to capital," Senator Cantwell said at the press conference today. "This is about restoring what we believe in America makes our economy great: entrepreneurs who can get access to capital."
In Washington state, there are more than 140,000 small businesses that employ workers in addition to the business owner. Since fall 2008, Washington state small businesses shed some 142,000 jobs. Senator Cantwell has said that if each of these businesses were to hire just one additional employee it would wipe out the job loss to small businesses in Washington state since the recession began. Among the key provisions Cantwell cosponsored are the $30 billion Small Business Lending Fund, a small business trade promotion provision, and a measure to aid small business government subcontractors -- all important provisions to Washington state. The bill includes several other provisions to help small businesses access capital and make investments to grow their businesses and create jobs.
"Unfortunately it has been held up not just for the last several months, but almost for a year-and-a-half by people who didn't believe in the philosophy of investing in Main Street," Senator Cantwell said. With final passage this week, she said, "We will see bipartisan results and we will see our country moving forward in what is critical for our economic recovery."
Helping Small Businesses Access Capital
* The Small Business Lending Fund (SBLF), strongly backed by Cantwell since it was first proposed by President Obama in January, will leverage $300 billion in private-sector small business lending with a $30 billion public investment that will be repaid to taxpayers. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says repayment of the lending fund will reduce the federal deficit by $1.1 billion over 10 years.
* The legislation raises the cap on small business loans to increase lending by $5 billion in the first year after enactment, and refinances commercial real estate debt into long-term, fixed-rate loans. These provisions are expected to be budget neutral and could create or save 200,000 jobs.
* The legislation extends the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act small business lending program that eliminates the fees normally charged for loans through the Small Business Administration (SBA) 7(a) and 504 loan programs and increases the government guarantees on 7(a) loans from 75 percent to 90 percent. Since its creation, the program has supported over $26 billion in small business lending, which has helped to create or retain over 650,000 jobs.
* Allows the SBA to waive or reduce the non-federal share of Women's Business Centers or Microloan Intermediary funding requirement for up to one year from fiscal year 2012. SBA estimates the microloan program will create or save more than 10,000 jobs in fiscal year 2011.
* Reduces the tax burden for small businesses by allowing them to carry back general business tax credits to offset their tax burdens from the previous five years. Small businesses will also be able to count the general business credits against the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), freeing up capital for expansion and job growth.
Increasing Small Businesses' Ability to Make Investments
* Increases Section 179 expensing -- permitting up to $500,000 in capital investments that businesses can expense.
* Extends Bonus Depreciation -- allowing taxpayers to immediately write off 50 percent of the cost of new equipment.
* $12 billion in tax cuts, including 100 percent exclusion from capital gains taxes on small business investments.
* A small business trade promotion provision that leverages more than $1 billion in export capital for small businesses, creating or saving as many as 50,000 jobs across the nation in 2010.
* Increases to $10,000 the tax deduction for start-up expenditures -- doubling the current levels.
* Establishes a new State Export Promotion Grant Program (STEP), which would increase the number of small businesses that export goods to other countries.
Promoting Fairness in Competition
* Improves tax fairness by preventing small businesses from incurring large tax penalties aimed at large corporations and wealthy individuals investing in tax shelters.
* Improves small business contracting by clarifying that no single contracting program receives priority over another program when competing for federal contracts.
* Measures to aid small business government subcontractors. The bill establishes stricter federal contracting bundling requirements, ensures prompt payment of subcontractors, requires an aggressive review of SBA size standards every five years, and allows small businesses to team together to compete for large contracts. Increasing contracts to small businesses by 1 percent would create or save more than 100,000 jobs.
* Allows self-employed individuals to deduct health insurance costs for purposes of paying the self-employment tax.