DENVER–Speaking Thursday at a small dog-grooming shop, Sen. Michael Bennet said small businesses weathering the recession needed the relief provided by greater access to loans, something he hoped to provide through the Small Business Jobs Act he said was falling victim to partisan gamesmanship.
Republican senators filibustered Bennet’s proposal late last month. The bill is designed to spur liquidity through tax breaks for business owners and investors and by bolstering the lending market for small business.
Bennet wrote the bill with a number of Republicans. Specifically, it would provide roughly $12 billion in tax benefits, raise the cap on federal small business loans and create a $30 billion lending facility that would provide funds for community banks to lend to businesses through a dividend rate incentive.
The bill failed on a party line vote. Republican said they opposed the bill because they had only been offered the opportunity to include three amendments.
“Because of Washington games about what amendments would be added and what amendments would not be added, we saw a bill that has huge bi-partisan support outside of the Senate defeated by partisanship and abuse of rules in a way that has had a huge effect on our economy,” Bennet said.
Many small business have been unable to access credit since the recession caused lenders and federal auditors to tighten restrictions.
Bennet said that roughly 80 percent of jobs are going to be created by small business during the slow climb out of the recession. “It they can have access to credit, they can create the jobs,” Bennet said.
Asked if the bill didn’t play into the spend-thrift image his Republican opponent in the Senatorial race, Ken Buck, has cast on him recently in commercials, Bennet told the Colorado Independent that the bill was entirely paid for through offsets.
The Congressional Budget Office said that the bill would save tax payers $1.1 billion over 10 years, though it acknowledged there were alternative ways to score the bill.
Bennet added that unlike the TARP bailout, where lending came to a standstill as large banks held on to cheap money provided by taxpayers, the $30 billion offered to community banks through his bill would see the interest rate that the bank pay on the loan go down as the percentage of small business they lend to rises.
The bill integrated a number of Republican ideas, including the elimination of capital gains taxes on investment in small companies held over five years.
The bill is supported by 205 organization and businesses, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, The American Bankers Association, The Independent Bankers of Colorado, and The National Independent Bankers Association.
“This wasn’t even the case where we were allowed to debate on a bill that there is almost universal agreement would help lift our economy here in Colorado and across the country. We couldn’t even get to debate because of broken Washington. It is high time we stopped playing these political games,” Bennet said.
The Wag Shop grooming business where Bennet was speaking also endorsed the bill. Owner, Deidre Hered said she would be one of the first to try for a loan to help create new jobs, expand her business, buy new equipment and offer her employees insurance among other things. Hered said she recently was denied a $30,000 loan, though she landed a reduced $10,000 loan.
“It would help out tremendously,” Hered said.
Bennet said that this bill was perfectly tailored to Hered’s business. “This is exactly what this bill is targeted for. It changes the tax treatment for capitol improvements like that….it would allow them to improve their business.”
Bennet said the Senate will take back up the bill when they reconvene in September.