During his final American Jobs Tour stop, in the Appalachian community of Chillicothe, Ohio, Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama [D-Ill.] demonstrated steady leadership and introduced a new short-term proposal to address the credit crisis of struggling small businesses.
Sen. Obama’s goal is to put all tools on the table to ensure that necessary steps are taken to help Americans who are scrambling financially. Many small-business owners can’t even make their payroll or finance their holiday inventories. Obama’s proposal is one giant leap toward helping them during this time of financial crisis.
While the financial-market rescue plan [AKA bailout] is designed to unfreeze credit, which will indirectly benefit small businesses, Obama recognizes that small businesses need direct and immediate access to capital now. Yesterday, he called for a Small Business Rescue Plan to help small firms get the loans they need to conduct day-to-day operating expenses, undertake short-term investments, and meet payrolls.
The plan will use tools available through the Small Business Administration [SBA] to aggressively extend credit to struggling firms, while providing tax cuts for small businesses to encourage job creation. With America's 27 million small businesses responsible for more than two-thirds of new job creation, this plan is vital to stemming job losses and turning our economy around.
Barack Obama’s Small Business Rescue Plan includes:
* A Nationwide Emergency Lending Facility for Small Businesses: Just as our nation did in the wake of 9/11, when businesses all around the country were facing economic injury, Obama is calling for the SBA to directly lend to small businesses that cannot access other sources of capital. The facility will be run through the SBA's Disaster Loan Program, which is designed to offer affordable, fixed-rate loans to small firms to meet operating expenses, undertake needed short-term investments, or to refinance debt. Loans should be available with an expedited approval and disbursement process, so that firms can access the credit needed to meet their operating expenses immediately.
* Expanding SBA Guarantees to Encourage Private Lending to Small Businesses: Obama is calling for expanding the SBA’s key loan guarantee programs -- 7[a] and 504 -- by temporarily eliminating fees for borrowers and lenders, and increasing the guarantee rate on private loans. These steps will give lenders new incentives to lend and help unlock credit for small firms. It will send a clear signal that the government is standing with small businesses and ensuring sources of loans.
* Temporary Tax Incentives to Encourage Small Businesses to Invest in Jobs: Barack Obama will give small businesses additional incentives to make investments and start creating jobs again by providing temporary business tax incentives through 2009. February's Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 increased maximum Section 179 expenses to $250,000, but this expires in December 2008. This provision will encourage all firms to pursue investment in the coming months, but will benefit small firms in particular, who generally have smaller amounts of annual property purchases and so choose to expense the cost of their acquired property.
"If we're going to rebuild this economy from the bottom up, it has to start with our small businesses on Main Street -- not just the big banks on Wall Street," Obama declared at yesterday's American Jobs Tour rally stop in Ohio. "Small businesses employ half of the workers in the private sector in this country, and account for the majority of the job growth. But we also know that a credit crunch has dried up capital and put these jobs at risk. Shops can't finance their inventories, and small firms can't make payroll. It's harder to get an idea off the ground, or to provide health care for your employees. If we don't act, we'll be looking at scaled back operations, shuttered shops, and laid off workers.
"That's why we need a Small Business Rescue Plan, so that we're extending our hand to the shops and restaurants -- the start-ups and small firms that create jobs and make our economy grow. Main Street needs relief and you need it now. We won't grow government; we'll work within the Small Business Administration to keep folks afloat, while providing tax cuts to lift the tide. It's what we did after 9/11, and we were able to get low-cost loans out to tens of thousands of small businesses. That's one of the many steps we can, and should, take to help stop job losses and turn this economy around.
"It starts with a nationwide program to provide affordable, fixed-rate loans to small businesses across the country. We can run this through the SBA's Disaster Loan Program, which provides loans to small-business owners to get the help they need to maintain their inventory and meet their payroll. We'll also make it easier for private lenders to make small-business loans by expanding the SBA's Guaranty Loan Program. By temporarily eliminating fees for borrowers and lenders, we can unlock the credit that small firms need to move forward, pay their workers, and grow their business.
"Just as we make lending more available, we need to relieve the tax burden on small businesses to help create jobs. That's why I've proposed eliminating all capital-gains taxes on investments in small businesses and start-ups. And today, I'm proposing an additional temporary business tax incentive through next year to encourage new investments. Because it's time to protect the jobs we have and to create the jobs of tomorrow by unlocking the drive, and ingenuity, and innovation of the American people. That's what I'll do as president of the United States."
Barack Obama's comprehensive and far-reaching Small Business Rescue Plan marks yet another bold move on behalf of America's small businesses. He and running mate Sen. Joe Biden [D-Del.] have also proposed the following:
* Zero Capital-Gains Rate for Investment in Small Businesses: Barack Obama believes that we need to encourage investment in small businesses to help create jobs and turn our economy around. That’s why he will eliminate all capital-gains taxes on investments made in small and start-up businesses. Unlike John McCain, who wants to give $200 billion in new tax cuts to America’s largest and most profitable businesses, Obama wants to cut taxes for those small businesses that create jobs, but are struggling with restricted access to credit -- alongside skyrocketing health-care and energy costs.
* Tax Cuts for the Vast Majority of Small Businesses: Barack Obama believes that we need to reduce burdens on small-business owners -- many of whom are struggling to succeed in the midst of our economic crisis. Unlike John McCain, Obama has proposed direct tax cuts for small businesses -- including zero capital gains for investments in small businesses, plus a new 50 percent tax credit for businesses that offer health care to their employees on behalf of their employees, and to small businesses with no employees. Obama will provide a $1,000 Making Work Pay middle-class tax credit to 95 percent of workers and their families, which will help individuals with small-business income -- including the country’s more than 20 million self-employed individuals. And, because the Obama plan preserves existing tax rates for families making less than $250,000 a year, nearly 99 percent of small-business owners won’t see any tax increase under the Obama plan.
* New Small-Business Health Tax Credit: Barack Obama will exempt small businesses from any requirement to offer health insurance to their employees or contribute on their behalf. Instead, he will give small businesses new incentives to provide health care with a Small Business Health Tax Credit. The Obama Small Business Health Tax Credit will provide a refundable credit of up to 50 percent on premiums paid by small businesses.
* Investment of $15 Billion a Year in Renewable Sources of Energy: Barack Obama will create five million new, green jobs over the next decade -- jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced; jobs building solar panels and wind turbines and fuel-efficient cars; jobs that will help us end our dependence on oil from Middle East dictators.
* Investing in Our Nation's Infrastructure: Barack Obama will put two million more Americans to work rebuilding our crumbling roads, schools, and bridges -- because it is time to build an American infrastructure for the 21st century. He would also work with the building trades to expand apprenticeship programs, so that young workers can develop their skills.
GoodBiz113's take: Wall Street has gotten its $700 billion bailout. Unfortunately, it'll be awhile before small businesses on Main Street, as well as in America's rural farming areas, benefit from the supposed "trickle-down effect" of that massive cash infusion. Barack Obama and Joe Biden's innovative Small Business Rescue Plan is just what small businesses, entrepreneurs, start-ups, and working families and households need for short- and long-term endeavors, and deserves to be funded and implemented ASAP.
SOURCES: Internal Revenue Service, Obama for America, U.S. Small Business Administration
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