Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy: A Timely And Needed Helping Hand To Small Businesses

Remarks As Prepared For Delivery -- Senate Floor

Mr. President, small businesses and working families throughout Vermont and around the country are facing incredibly challenging times.  These problems are especially acute in my state where we rely so heavily on small businesses to create jobs for our citizens and to make Vermont such a desirable place to live and visit. 
The Federal Government has rightly recognized the important role that small businesses play in our economy.  From SBA loans to USDA Rural Development grants to small-business set-asides on government contacts, a variety of targeted Federal programs partner with small businesses to help them grow and prosper. 

This Congress has enacted several job-creating steps.  Just last year I led the effort here in the Senate to enact a major overhaul of our Nation’s outdated patent laws.  This new America Invents Act will create jobs and help unleash more American innovation, without adding a penny to the deficit.  Last year, Vermont was awarded more patents per capita than any state in the union.  Those patents mean more jobs for Vermonters.
And two weeks ago we made further progress by passing a transportation funding bill that will make vital investments in our nation’s roads, bridges, and transit systems, and a student loan bill that will lower the costs of college borrowing for thousands of students and their families.
But we can and must do more to help our struggling small businesses and working families. 

That is why I strongly support the bill before us today that will provide small businesses with tax incentives to begin hiring again.  This bill is a multi-prong strategy for spurring job creation.  First, it would create a tax credit for businesses that hire new workers or increase wages for their current workers.  Second, it would allow businesses to immediately write off all of the major purchases they make this year – tangible incentives for new investments and new hires, right away. 
Now, I don’t support this bill just because the President supports it, or the Democratic Leader supports it, or most of the members on my side of the aisle support it.  They all do stand behind this effort, and I am grateful for that.  I support this bill because I have heard from small business owners in Vermont who tell me they would make capital improvements and put people to work immediately if this bill were signed into law.

On the shores of Lake Champlain, in the Northern Border town of Highgate, Vermont, sits one of America’s most genuine and beautiful family resorts: The Tyler Place Family Resort.  Year after year, families flock to the resort to spend time with their families, swimming, boating, and enjoying a summer campfire.  It is the kind of place that draws the same families year after year, where multi-generational families take time to enjoy each other’s company as well as the great food and magnificent views.  And it is easy to forget, especially while watching the sunset over Lake Champlain, that it is one of the millions of small businesses that keep America’s economy moving forward and Americans at work.

Last winter I heard from the owners of the resort, including Pixley Tyler Hill -- a dogged advocate for Vermont, for Vermont’s tourism industry, and for Lake Champlain – about their interest in seeing an extension of the bonus depreciation provision that expired in December.  Her brother, Ted Tyler, summed it up by saying:

“These changes in the tax law make all the difference in the world in decisions whether to spend money – and thereby stimulate the economy and increase employment in the process.  For example, consider a resort deciding whether to add tennis courts, put in a new sewer system, upgrade roads, do major landscaping work – say, at an anticipated cost of $300,000.  Absent Bonus Depreciation, the company will have paid $300,000 but can only deduct $20,000 that year as an expense for tax purposes.  True enough that over the next 14 years the business can continue to write off $20,000, but how many small businesses can afford to wait that long to recoup the $280,000 they no longer have?”

Pixley and Ted had me sold the minute they explained that this tax incentive was the difference between making new investments and hiring someone and sitting on their hands waiting for things to change.  Extending this provision alone is reason enough to pass this bill.  But, Mr. President, this bill is full of a million other reasons why we should be working with all the determination we can muster to promptly pass it – a good, solid reason for each of the jobs it would create for working families at business all over America.  So I urge all Senators to work without delay on this important legislation.  Businesses in each one of our states are waiting for us to lend another helping hand to the economic recovery effort. 

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