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John Flerlage

John Flerlage

Posted: July 2, 2010 06:08 PM

Mike Coffman Votes against Local Banks, Small Business

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What further proof do you need, business leaders, bankers, citizens and voters, that Mike Coffman has little interest in solutions, in helping small business, job creation or the prosperity of this community? Recently, our representative here in Colorado's 6th District voted no on HR 5297 (June 17, 2010).

Two days prior, the Independent Community Bankers wrote to the members of the House: "On behalf of the nearly 5,000 members of the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), we express strong support for the Small Business Lending Fund Act of 2010 (HR 5297) and urge House passage. The act will boost the flow of credit to small businesses ..."

The act would provide a $30 billion fund for local banks to borrow money and loan to small businesses. Rather than regulate and direct, Congress provides incentives for the banks to make those loans. Institutions with less than $10 billion in assets can tap the fund. They will effectively borrow money initially at 5 percent interest but will pay as little as 1 percent if they meet a defined threshold of loans to small business. They must also show a lending plan before borrowing money. There are two other sections to the bill that provide $2 billion to some existing state lending programs and $1 billion for SBA grants to small business in industries such as defense and energy. The cost is $3.3 billion and fully paid for under pay/go rules. The act does not add to the deficit.

From Mr. Coffman's website: "... The legislation does not include any requirements that banks use the money to lend to small businesses and would deepen our nation's debt by more than $30 billion." These two assertions are completely at odds with the text of the bill. Amazingly, he continues: "This bill does contain valuable provisions, including one I co-sponsored which would allow community banks to amortize, or write down, commercial real estate loan losses ..." Mr. Coffman then voted no.

When Mr. Coffman first took office, he explained his agenda (Feb. 24, 2009, Columbine Courier): "I am primarily focused on the economy," with his "primary focus" being local banking. He complained that local bankers could not access TARP funds and said, "I want to work with (President Obama's) administration on getting the credit markets on the grassroots level of our financial system moving again."

Mr. Coffman is simply not interested in solutions. He has voted with his party more than 94 percent of the time, even when doing so conflicts with his core agenda and regardless of the effect on our community's prosperity. I would have voted with our Independent Community Bankers and our small businesses on HR 5297. I would have voted yes.