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Skelton says we need to work together for rebuilding the American economy
Skelton says we need to work together for rebuilding the American economy

Congressman Ike Skelton
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As we celebrated Thanksgiving last week with family and friends, many families in Missouri and across the United States were experiencing a less bountiful holiday due to the greatest American recession since World War II. Despite some positive financial news, times remain tough for many Americans. Enacting common sense, bipartisan policies that generate jobs must remain a top priority for the Administration and for Congress.

On Dec. 3, the White House will conduct a Forum on jobs and economic growth. The forum will bring together financial experts, small business owners, and economists to identify viable means of rebuilding our economy and creating and saving American jobs. This conference is a good idea. It will allow people to put their heads together and formulate policy ideas that can be enacted through the executive branch or presented to Congress for consideration.

Yet, as important as this jobs summit is, Congress must immediately identify ways to generate job growth while remaining mindful of the deficit. Entrepreneurs and small businesses are the engines of real growth in this country. This is especially true in Missouri’s Fourth Congressional District, where small businesses dominate the economic landscape.

Cutting taxes for small businesses and expanding the lending capacity of the Small Business Administration (SBA) are two practical means of spurring economic expansion. Just this year, Congress provided tax relief to hardworking middle-class families, authorized $650 million to support small business lending, and enacted a homebuyer tax credit that has rejuvenated a stagnant housing market. The House of Representatives has passed legislation, which I cosponsored, that would increase the size of loans offered by the SBA and encourage banks to lend to rural entrepreneurs. To further aid new businesses, I signed onto a bill that would increase the tax deduction limit on start-up expenses from $5,000 to $20,000.

I have also cosponsored bills in the House designed to aid veterans and farmers. H.R. 2672, the Help Veterans Own Franchises Act, would help veterans become small business owners by incentivizing franchisors to offer discounted franchise fees to veterans. Also, to assist farmers and family-owned businesses, I have cosponsored the Estate Tax Relief Act of 2009.

I urge House leaders to bring forward bipartisan legislation to spur job growth. A bill to provide more tax incentives to small businesses, incorporating some of the ideas from the legislation mentioned above, would be a good step toward generating additional jobs. Congressional leaders may also wish to consider extending the highway bill for six months to ensure road and bridge construction continues as planned through the spring.

In the days ahead, Congress and the Administration will continue searching for ways to defeat the fiscal challenges facing our nation. Fixing these problems will be neither quick nor easy, but Americans have never wavered in the face of adversity. Together, the Administration, Congress, and the American people can build a better tomorrow.

Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) serves as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman Skelton’s website is at www.house.gov/skelton.

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