Senate Republicans Vote Against Helping Small Businesses

September 14, 2010 3:13 pm ET — Chris Harris

Sen. Mitch McConnell

The crisis that rocked the world's financial systems in 2008 sent shockwaves through every corner of the economy.  Terrified investors fled from the stock market and shaken financial firms on the verge of collapse refused to loan businesses money.  Americans lost confidence in the economy and severely scaled back their spending habits in favor of saving money for an uncertain future.  Consumers' sudden thriftiness hurt businesses everywhere which, unable to receive lines of credit from the teetering financial sector, were forced to lay off workers. 

Layoffs caused further pessimism about the economy, which scared even more Americans to reel back their spending, which strained small businesses and led to additional layoffs.  It is a cycle that, as we've seen, is very hard to break.

But today the Senate took an important step forward by advancing the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act to ensure America's job creators have access to lines of credit that will enable them to hire new workers and invest in the future.  Or, to be more specific, Senate Democrats and retiring Republican Sens. George Voinovich (R-OH) and George LeMieux (R-FL) took an important step forward.  The rest of the Republican caucus tried to kick small businesses to the curb by attempting to stop the bill from being voted on in the first place.

The bill gives investors a 100% exclusion from capital gains taxes on investments in small businesses, increases the amount businesses can expense on capital investments, and establishes new programs to help American small businesses export goods to other countries.

Perhaps most importantly, the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act also creates a Small Business Lending Fund that gives community banks — not Wall Street banks — the opportunity to increase lending to local small businesses, which the Independent Community Bankers of America says will create 500,000 jobs over the next two years. 

Republicans opposed the bill because they believe November's election will be a referendum on the economy.  In their view, the more they can obstruct economic progress, the more they'll be rewarded at the ballot box. 

In breaking with his party, Sen. Voinovich blasted the GOP for playing political games with the bill to help small businesses.  The Washington Post reported:

In an interview, Voinovich said he could no longer support Republican efforts to delay the measure in hopes of winning the right to offer additional amendments. Most of the proposed GOP amendments "didn't have anything to do with the bill" anyway, Voinovich said, and amounted merely to partisan "messaging."

"We don't have time for messaging," Voinovich said. "We don't have time anymore. This country is really hurting."

Thankfully there were two Republicans who were willing to put America's small business owners ahead of their party's own political games.  It speaks volumes about the sad state of the GOP that the only two Republicans who showed today that they understood the plight of their constituents are the ones retiring after the end of the year. 

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