Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Kerry Challenges Administration’s Big Business Agenda

Continuing his challenges to the Bush administration’s big business policies, John Kerry spoke today on the Senate floor honoring the 25 million small businesses in America while pointing out the inequities of the Bush administration’s support for the real small businesses of America.
Here’s some quips from Kerry’s floor statement:

“National Small Business Week is a time to celebrate the hard work of millions of American entrepreneurs… Today, those Americans are more than small business owners. They are employers, community leaders, and the keepers of the American Dream.

“Our small business owners not only remind us of the opportunities America provides to those willing to work for it – they also remind us how much opportunity small businesses provide to all Americans.

“Small businesses drive our economy, comprising over 99 percent of all firms and over half of our GDP. Two-thirds of all new American jobs are created by small businesses. A majority of Americans depend on their small business employer for health insurance. Our small businesses are responsible for countless inventions and innovations that have elevated the standard of living in the U.S. and around the world.

“Entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in America. Three in four adults have considered starting a small business, and with the advent of the Internet those numbers are going up.

“Supporting our small businesses is a win-win proposition for America. We can afford it. The people want it. And our economy needs it.

“That’s why it’s so hard to understand the administration’s lack of support. The SBA budget has been cut over a third since 2001, the largest reduction of any federal agency. Those cuts would have been far greater if Congress had not intervened… Time and time again we have received unanimous support in the Senate to rebuff proposed administration cuts. That’s because supporting small business shouldn’t be a partisan issue and never has been.

“We shouldn’t have to fight so hard for something that so obviously benefits America. This administration often claims the pro-business mantle. But if they were honest they would clarify that that means big business, not small business.

“Look at the bankruptcy bill. The bill helps big credit card companies and banks, but increases red tape and bureaucracy for small businesses. Small business owners know the path to success is often through failure, but the president’s bankruptcy bill discourages risk-taking and entrepreneurship.

“Look at the tax cuts. The administration claims the tax cuts primarily benefit small business, but in reality only the biggest small businesses get the majority of the cuts. More than half of small business owners received less than $500, and almost a quarter got no tax cut at all.

“Look at energy policy. While American families and small businesses struggled with gas prices, oil companies earned record profits in the fourth quarter of 2004: ExxonMobil up 218 percent, ConocoPhillips up 145 percent, Shell up 51 percent, ChevronTexaco up 39% and BP up 35 percent. Show me the small business that saw that kind of growth in the fourth quarter of last year.

“Look at what’s going on with federal contracts right now. Congress set the goal of each federal agency awarding at least 23 percent of its contracting dollars to small businesses. So what did the administration do? They allowed $2 billion worth of contracts to be reported as going to small businesses that, in fact, went to some of our biggest businesses. The money went to Raytheon, Northup Grumman, General Dynamics and Hewlett-Packard. Even the state of Texas was treated as a small business.

“An administration concerned with small business would be outraged by this and do something about it. This administration has done nothing. They have not accepted requests for an audit. They have not taken substantive steps to reform the contracting process. They have not prosecuted anyone for misrepresenting their organization as a small business…

“Small businesses are hit particularly hard by our healthcare crisis. Most small business owners want to do right by their employees and offer healthcare, but too many can no longer afford to... Since 2000, premiums for family coverage have gone up 59 percent, compared with inflation increases of nearly 10% and wage growth of over 12 percent. Some small businesses have reported their premiums increasing by more than 70 percent in one year.

“Of the 45 million uninsured Americans, almost two-thirds are small business owners, their employees and their families. In a nation founded on the principle of opportunity, that is unacceptable.

“We need a healthcare plan that gives small businesses access to the range of plan choices and consumer protections offered through the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program…

“Getting a small business healthcare plan passed should be a top priority for all of us this Congress. We can’t allow skyrocketing healthcare to slow down our economy or dampen entrepreneurship in America.

“Small businesses and entrepreneurs are America's single greatest economic resource. Time and again small business – not large corporations – have pulled our economy out of trouble, developed technological breakthroughs, and changed the way we do business in America for the better… Read the entire floor speech here.


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