Small Biz Straight Talk

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Washington, Dec 11, 2009 | Angela Landers ((202) 226-1581) | comments

News from Ranking Member Sam Graves and Committee Republicans: (Please send any member media activity to angela.landers@mail.house.gov)

• Ranking Member Sam Graves in Missouri’s St. Joe News Press: “Obama plans tax cuts; some skeptical

• Rep. Lynn A. Westmoreland (R-GA) “The bailout that never ends

• Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) “Joins Panama Caucus to Promote Jobs in Florida

• Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) “Best Way to Create Jobs is Common Sense, Bi-Partisan Approach

• Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) “Votes Against Bloated and Irresponsible Spending Bill

• Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) talks about his resolution to help small businesses on MSNBC.

• Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) appeared on Fox News to talk about job creation.

• Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) “Introduces Bipartisan R & D Tax Credit for Small Businesses

Must-Reads from the Week:

Republican Leader John Boehner’s Washington Post Editorial: A Better Plan for Jobs

Wall Street Journal: Firms Aren't Sold on Jobs Tax Credit

Wall Street Journal: White House Jobs Proposal Draws Weak Praise

New York Times: Little New for Small Business in Obama Job Speech

Forbes: Obama's Small Business Conundrum

Administration and the SBA:

• This week the Environmental Protection Agency made an announcement that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHG) threaten public health.  This endangerment finding will trigger authority under the Clean Air Act to control GHG emissions.  This announcement puts pressure on Congress to enact legislation that addresses these issues.  The business community and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed concerns about the economic consequences of a broad sweeping effort to control GHG emissions. 

• On Tuesday, President Obama made a highly anticipated jobs speech at the Brookings Institution.  The speech followed a jobs forum the President conducted last week to focus on improving the double digit unemployment numbers.  The forum’s topics included small business lending, infrastructure spending, and green energy upgrades.  Many conservatives question the costs associated with such initiatives and do not believe more government spending is the right approach given the federal deficit.  Some have estimated the President’s plan would cost as much as $200 billion.

Review of House Activity:

• On Wednesday, the House passed H.R. 4213, the Tax Extenders Act of 2009 by a vote of 241-181.  Many of the tax provisions included in the legislation, such as an extension of the research and development tax credit, the biodiesel production tax credit, and the fifteen year straight line cost recovery credit, had broad support.  However, the majority of House Republicans expressed concern about the revenue provisions and the fact that the tax relief in the bill is temporary, but the revenue provisions, or tax increases, are permanent.

• On Thursday, the House passed an FY10 omnibus appropriations measure by a vote of 221-201.  The $446.8 billion dollar measure includes the Commerce-Justice-Science, Financial Services, Labor-HHS-Education, Military Construction-VA, State-Foreign Operations and Transportation-HUD spending bills.  The only remaining measure left is the Defense spending measure, which is expected to be considered on the House floor next week.

• On Friday, the House passed H.R. 4173, Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009 by a vote of 223-202.  The legislation, which seeks to overhaul that nation’s financial regulations, was introduced in response to the nation’s current financial crisis.  Many conservatives argue that this legislation is a heavy handed approach with onerous new regulations that will cripple many U.S. businesses, raise interest rates, and kill jobs.  They also argue that this is a huge expansion of federal government's power.

Legislation and Letters Circulating Around the House:
(If you would like to publicize your small business effort in Congress, please email Paul Sass at Paul.Sass@mail.house.gov)

• Rep. Barton (R-TX) Seeks Cosponsors to Save Small Businesses from the Unintended Consequences of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

Last Congress, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) was enacted in response to recalls of children’s products imported from China which violated the Federal lead paint safety standard. Unfortunately, the rigid new law set exposure limits unrealistically low and testing requirements far too high, and the scope of businesses affected was too broad. Making matters worse, the CPSC was denied the flexibility under the law to adjust CPSIA’s scope and implementation in order to mitigate its unintended consequences. As a result, thousands of small business owners, thrift stores, and charities have been regulated out of business and more will face that same fate when the stay of enforcement expires in February. H.R. 1815, The Consumer Product Solutions Act, would amend CPSIA so that its safety standards are based on safety instead of arbitrary levels. It introduces concise and clear compliance guidelines, so small business aren’t trapped in a legal grey area. In addition, it removes the handcuffs from the CPSC by putting flexibility in the law so the Commission can make informed, common-sense exceptions. Most importantly, H.R. 1815 amends CPSIA so that our children stay protected and our small businesses can stay in business.

Please contact Sam Costello at Sam.Costello@mail.house.gov or (5-3641) for further information or to add your name as a cosponsor to H.R. 1815.

• Rep. Buyer (R-IN) Seeks Cosponsors for Legislation to Put Veterans Back to Work - Recent reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that over one million veterans are now unemployed and the unemployment rate among the youngest cohort of veterans is at the alarming rate of 20%.  These numbers are unacceptable, and any new “jobs package” must include provisions to reduce un-employment amongst veterans by providing better training incentives and opportunities for veterans to create and grow small businesses.  Congressman Steve Buyer will soon introduce the “Promoting Jobs for Veterans Act of 2009” which will address these issues and create jobs for veterans by: 

1.) Re-Authorizing the VA Veteran Owned Small Business Loan Guaranty Program which would guarantee loans up to $500,000.

2.) Creating a new troops to teachers program to pay new teachers who are veterans and are teaching in a rural area $500 a month stipend.

3.) Increasing the Veterans Workforce Reinvestment Program authorized level from $9 million to $20 million.

4.) Increasing the Vocational Rehabilitation monthly stipend to the greater of housing stipend under the post 9/11 GI Bill or $1,200.

5.) Creating a 2 year paid internship program at VA for up to 2,000 vocational rehabilitation participants

6.) Providing a zip code based housing stipend for unemployed veterans who are participating in a VA approved OJT/Apprenticeship Program.

7.) Requiring VA link to reputable veteran employment websites on their website and nationally advertise the “Vet-success” website created by the Vocation Rehabilitation Program. 

8.) Allowing VA to enter into sole source contracts with veteran
owned small businesses in the same way they can with 8(a) firms.

9.) Putting veteran owned small business at the same level at other 8(a) small businesses

10.) Extending the period of 8(a) eligibility for small businesses owned by individuals on active duty.

Please contact Jon Clark at jon.clark@mail.house.gov to cosponsor this legislation.

• Rep. Blackburn (R-TN) Seeks Cosponsors to Prohibit the EPA from Regulating Greenhouse Gases Under the Clean Air Act - As the U.S. Senate debates how to move forward with Cap-and-Trade legislation, the EPA continues its progress towards implementing energy and emission restrictions by regulating greenhouse gases (GHGs) under the Clean Air Act.  This is an overt attempt to implement economy-killing regulation without passage of a Cap-and-Trade bill.  The EPA just proposed a rule for regulating GHGs for major industries, and the agency is finalizing pending greenhouse gas (GHG) vehicle emissions rules, which will include defining GHGs as regulated under the Clean Air Act.  EPA will finalize these rules by March 2010 unless legislation is passed that prevents them from moving forward.  H.R. 391 has been introduced to protect the interests of American consumers and businesses by prohibiting the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.  A discharge petition has also been filed to bring the bill to the floor to stop the EPA from acting further on this issue.   Rep. Blackburn urges colleagues to join in cosponsoring H.R. 391 and by signing discharge petition No. 0005.  We cannot let EPA move forward on this issue.  We must stop them now. 

Please contact Rodney Bacigalupo at Rodney.Bacigalupo@mail.house.gov or at (5-2811) for further information or to add your name as a cosponsor to H.R. 391.

Review of Senate Activity:

• This week, the Senate continued to focus on reforming the health care system.  Some of the more controversial measures that were addressed this week include the rejection of an amendment to prevent federal money from supporting abortion, an expansion of Medicare to include uninsured individuals between the ages of 55-64, and the creation of a new system of private national health insurance plans.  The plans would be administered by the Office of Personnel Management, the agency that manages health care benefits for federal employees.  Many liberals seem to be satisfied with these recent changes which are being scored by the Congressional Budget Office.  However, many conservatives still view these options as an expansion of the government in the health care market that would compete directly with the private sector.

Other Small Business News off the Hill:

• The International Franchise Association released data showing “Lending Shortfall Will Slow Job Creation in 2010.”

Looking Forward:

There are no House Small Business Committee hearings scheduled for next week.

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