Members of the Senate decided today to put politics over progress by blocking movement on the Small Business Jobs Act (H.R. 5297) when it came up for a crucial procedural vote. Unless an agreement can be reached, the bill is likely to languish in the Senate.
The debate on the Senate floor consisted of the usual acrimonious banter with lots of finger pointing about the unfairness of the majority and the obstructionism of the minority. What is truly unfair is that Main Street will likely be left out in the cold again to weather this economic storm, while Wall Street was bailed out by Congress with swiftness as soon as financial institutions showed signs of stress from the fiscal crisis they single-handedly created.
To date, Wall Street has received close to $5 trillion dollars in aid. Yes, that's right, $5 trillion! Yet, nothing has been done to provide assistance or relief to the largest sector of our economy -- small business.
The critical question in this debate should be what the Small Business Jobs Act could mean to a small business owner's bottom line. The tax equity for the self-employed provision alone would result in tax savings of over 15 percent for the 23 million self-employed Americans. Sole-proprietors would receive a one-year, temporary business deduction for their health insurance costs providing them significant savings on their self-employment (payroll) taxes. This is a permanent deduction currently enjoyed by large businesses and corporations in the U.S.
Did bailing out Wall Street help 23 million Americans? Did bailing out our auto industry save 23 million jobs? I don't think so. The Small Business Jobs Act, with its' $12 billion in targeted temporary tax relief, will provide a wide-sweeping benefit to our nation's smallest businesses.
While the bill is certainly not a panacea, it is a step in the right direction; a step that should have the support of both sides of the aisle. However, with August recess looming and campaign season in full swing, it seems the need to one-up the opposition is more important than improving the economy and helping American families.
Is it any wonder why only 11 percent of Americans have confidence in Congress?
Lawmakers need to get their act together and focus on the big picture. It's the economy, stupid! A healthy Main Street means healthy families, healthy communities and a healthy economy. If legislators want to keep their jobs come November, it is time for them to start doing their job in Congress.
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