Small Business and the Economy

President Obama:
It is just wonderful to be
at American Cord and Webbing. And thank you — I just
saw all the great work that’s being done here. I want to acknowledge a few
friends here in the first row. First of all, your outstanding
senior senator Jack Reed. We’re so proud of him. (applause) And your equally
outstanding junior senator, Sheldon Whitehouse is here. (applause) My dear friend, Congressman
Patrick Kennedy. (applause) And I want to just
say right now, Providence mayor Dave Cicilline
soon could have another job. (applause) Congressman Jim Langevin is
just a great friend and an inspiration to all of us. (applause)
We’ve got Woonsocket mayor
Leo Fontaine is here. Where’s Mr. Mayor? There he is, right there. (applause) And of course somebody all
of you know, Mark Krauss. Where’s Mark? (applause) And Ray Velino, right here. (applause) You guys are pretty popular. (laughter) That’s nice. It is great to be
here in Rhode Island, and it is great to be here
at American Cord and Webbing. I just had a chance to take
a quick tour and see the outstanding work that so many
of the workers are doing here. These guys make webbing,
cords, buckles, plastic and metal hardware for sporting
goods, outdoor goods, travel gear. They are also making
customized leashes for Bo — (laughter) — that I am very proud of,
and it is clear that they take enormous pride in what they do. This is a
third-generation company, and Mark was telling me how it
got started with his grandfather in 1917, and it’s just a
testament to American ingenuity and American entrepreneurship. And now he’s got
four beautiful kids, along with his lovely wife. And one of them or two of them
may end up continuing the business once Mark decides
he’s ready to retire. But that looks like
a long ways off. (laughter) He looks pretty
young and pretty fit. Like most small businesses,
American Cord and Webbing has gone through some tough
times in the past few years. Early in 2009, they lost
customers and had to lay off some workers. But they buckled down
— that was a pun. (laughter) You got that? You catch that one? And then invested
in new products and pursued new customers. And over the past year, they’ve
hired back all the workers they had to lay off. And today business
is going well. (applause) So this year, Mark
expects to turn a profit. He’s going to invest in new
machinery and new equipment. And just last month, this
company was approved for an SBA loan that’s going to help them
expand this facility by nearly half, which is going
to be very exciting. Now, this is important —
not just for this particular business and these particular
workers, but for America. It’s small businesses
like this one, after all, that are the bricks and
blocks, the cord and webbing, if you will, of our economy. But the financial crisis made
it very difficult for them to get the loans that
they needed to grow. The recession meant that
folks are spending less. And across the country, many
small businesses that were once the cornerstones of
their communities are now empty storefronts that
haunt our main streets. So the bottom line is, when our
small businesses don’t do well, America doesn’t do well. So we all have a stake in
helping our small businesses grow and succeed. And because small businesses
create two out of every three new jobs in America, our
economy depends on it. And that’s why, over
the past 20 months, we’ve done everything we
can to boost small businesses like this one. And what’s guided us is a simple
principle: Government can’t guarantee your success, can’t
guarantee Mark’s success — he doesn’t expect it to — but
government can knock down some of the barriers that stand
in the way of small business success and help create
the conditions where small businesses can grow and hire and
create new products and prosper. That’s why we’ve now passed,
with the help of these outstanding members of Congress
— 16 different tax cuts for America’s small businesses over
the last couple years — 16 tax cuts over the last couple years. (applause) We’ve passed tax cuts for
hiring back unemployed workers. We’ve passed tax cuts for
investing in new equipment. There are 4 million small
businesses right now that are poised to get a tax break of up
to 35 percent of the premiums they pay if they are providing
health insurance to their employees — and that’s a tax
break that can free up tens of thousands of dollars to upgrade
facilities, buy new equipment, or hire a few new workers. And last month, after plenty
of political obstacles, after months in which thousands
of small business owners across America were waiting for the
loans and tax cuts they badly needed to grow their business
and hire new employees, I signed into law the
Small Business Jobs Act. Now, that act extended
provisions that helped support tens of thousands of new SBA
loans under the Recovery Act, and it waived fees on those
loans to save owners money on their payments — something that
saved this particular company more than $9,000. In less than a month since
that new law took effect, more than 3,600 small business
owners have already received more than $1.4 billion
worth of new loans, with more to come — and the
SBA has already begun offering larger loans for small
business owners who need them. The law also accelerates $55
billion in new tax cuts for businesses both large and
small that make job-creating investments over the next year. It eliminates capital gains
taxes on key new investments made in small businesses
until the end of this year. It dramatically increases the
amount small businesses can write off on new equipment
investments — and we want to do more, so that you
can write it all off. These are tax cuts that can
help America — help businesses like American Cord and
Webbing that are making new investments right now. And it can help create jobs. Finally, the law that we signed
creates new initiatives to increase lending to
small businesses. It strengthens state programs
that spur private sector lending, and that’s a step that
will support $15 billion in new small business loans
across the country. And it sets up a new Small
Business Lending Fund that will support Main Street banks that
lend to Main Street businesses. We’re doing all this because
when times are tough, I believe we should be cutting
taxes for small business owners. We should be cutting taxes for
companies that are investing here in Rhode Island and here
in the United States of America. (applause) When new loans are
hard to come by, I believe we should
help free up lending. When some companies are
shipping jobs overseas, we should be helping companies
like this one — our small businesses, our manufacturers,
our clean energy companies. I think those are pretty
commonsense values that we can all agree on. Now, I will confess I wish that
Republican leaders in Congress had agreed earlier. They voted against these
ideas again and again. They talk a good game about tax
cuts and giving entrepreneurs the freedom to
succeed when, in fact, they also ended up voting
against tax cuts for the middle class; they voted against tax
breaks for companies creating jobs here in the United States. When you vote against small
business tax relief and you hold up a small business
jobs bill for months, that doesn’t do anything
to support small businesses like this one. It doesn’t do anything to
support the outstanding workers at this company. It’s just playing politics. If you’re going to talk a big
game, then you need to deliver. So I hope that my friends on
the other side of the aisle are going to change their
minds going forward, because putting the American
people back to work, boosting our small businesses,
rebuilding the economic security of the middle class, these
are big national challenges. And we’ve all got a
stake in solving them. And it’s not going to be
enough just to play politics. You can’t just focus
on the next election. You’ve got to focus on
the next generation. That’s how Mark’s company
has succeeded by focusing on the next generation. And that’s how we have to think
about our work in Washington. (applause) So let me just again
congratulate the company for doing the great
work that you’re doing. Thank you for your hospitality. I know it’s always a
big fuss when I show up. (laughter) And to all of you here in Rhode
Island and all across the country, when I tour plants like
this, it makes me optimistic. We’ve got big problems, and
it’s going to take some time to solve them. It took us a long time to get
into this economic hole that we’ve been in. And the recession that we
inherited was so deep that it’s going to take
some time to get out. But we are going to get out. And I’m absolutely convinced
that there are brighter days ahead for America — an America
where businesses like this one aren’t just thriving, but are
powering our economic growth; where workers like the ones
who are here are rewarded for the work that you do; where
our middle class is growing; where opportunity is
shared by all our people, and the American Dream is back
within the reach of those who are willing to work for it. So that’s what
we’re working for. That’s the guiding
principle behind all of my administration’s activities is
how do we make sure that the economy is growing, and that
the middle class is growing — because that’s the beating
heart of this economy. What you do here is a great
example of what we’ve got to be able to do all
across this country. We’re proud of you, and I thank
you so much for letting us join you here today and seeing the
wonderful success that you’ve been able to accomplish. Thank you very much, everybody. (applause)

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