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Public Statements

This Week in Washington


Location: Washington, DC

There is no disputing that small businesses are the key to job growth. According to the Small Business Administration, 65 percent or 9.8 million of the 15 million net new jobs created between 1993 and 2009 were created by small businesses. We choke the life out of economic growth when we make it harder for them to do business.

As budget negotiations continue, and those involved draw and redraw their lines in the sand on so many issues, we must find a solution that doesn't slow down our economic engine. It isn't impossible to protect and preserve veterans' benefits, Social Security and Medicare, while providing a fertile climate for businesses to grow and prosper. We cannot balance our budget on the backs of the aged and the disabled, nor can we fully recover our economy and expand our prosperity without a healthy business climate. What people in Washington don't seem to understand is that we will never get out of the economic ditch by simply throwing people under the bus.

We cannot further hinder the expansion of the companies we've tasked with creating jobs. For example, I'm concerned about talk of repealing the "Last In, First Out," or LIFO, method of inventory accounting for manufacturers as part of a budget package. As a student of economics, as well as a former mill worker, I understand the importance of taking into account the cost of replacing inventory. If we give our businesses a better ongoing estimate of their taxable income, we can eliminate uncertainty and unexpected costs down the line, moving those savings into possible expansions or better wages for the people who clock in and out each day. Unless you are an accountant or business owner, you may not have heard of LIFO or given much thought to its elimination, but it will impact us all if we allow it to hurt our economy.

The proposed repeal of LIFO would end a proven practice that has served as a fundamental accounting tool for manufacturers and other companies working to balance their books and invest in, and plan for, their future. Growing companies and small businesses simply cannot afford this added financial burden and uncertainty, and it would work directly against any plan to help create jobs in the private sector.

It's no secret that I've long opposed any cuts to Medicare and Social Security that would break the promise we've made to senior citizens. Seniors won't be the only ones to suffer. Over the past decade, older Americans have lost almost a third of their buying power. As I continue my effort to lead the fight to reinstate the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), we've seen senior expenses rise over 70 percent since 2000. This is absolutely unacceptable.

Dangerous cuts to these programs not only threaten the livelihood of our seniors and small businesses, but also have an effect on the health and medical care industry that so many in our area rely on for employment. In many of our counties, healthcare is our largest non-government employer now that so many manufacturing jobs are gone. The impact of these cuts would be real and would hit deeper into our community than many may think.

Many folks have lost their pensions, removing the safety and financial security they have worked their lives to create. Investments in college savings and retirement have also dwindled, falling victim to the uncertain markets. I will continue to work as hard as I can to help restore and protect the middle class jobs and industries that have made our area, and this great nation, what it is today.

That can be done by protecting our priorities and working together to solve our budget crisis--not by using working people, senior citizens, and veterans as bargaining chips--but by remembering that an investment in those who build our economy brings real revenue back to our economy and reduces our deficit. We have real cuts we can make, in everything from foreign aid to wasteful bureaucratic programs that are duplicated throughout government. As any family can tell you--when you start to watch your pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves.

I want to get us back to the balanced budget of the late 1990s, and I know the way to that balanced budget is through promoting prosperity. A rising tide will lift all boats. We must be strong, put partisanship aside and refuse to bargain away our principles.

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