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Small Businesses Put a Hold On Hiring, Wait Out a GOP Filibuster

August 31, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Economist Susan Woodward considers August to be, typically, “a month of unambiguous employment growth.” But according to a report released today that she helped to put together with Intuit Inc., small businesses in August, though still hiring, are adding new employees at the slowest rate since January. According to the report, the number of jobs created in August is only one-third of how many were created in April.

Why the downturn? One possibility is that small business owners have put hiring and expansion on hold while they wait for the Senate to break a Republican filibuster and pass the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010.

USA Today reports:

Small businesses have put hiring, supply buying and real estate expansion on hold as they wait out the vote on a small-business-aid bill that stalled in the Senate earlier this summer.

The much-debated legislation offers tax breaks and waived loan fees. But it also comes with more divisive components, such as a $30 billion fund that would help community banks give loans to small businesses. Opponents say the fund would be a mini version of the often-criticized TARP large-bank bailout program.

Many small businesses had hoped the legislation would pass the Senate by the end of July. With two weeks left until Congress reconvenes, those firms are in a holding pattern.

“I’m still waiting for Congress to sign off on the bill,” says Amarjit Kaur, who runs a convenience store and gas station in Wood Village, Ore. She leases her property but has a chance to buy it. With the waived-fee provision, Kaur says she could save about $35,000 on her pending loan.

Kaur’s is among about 1,000 other small businesses that “have their bank papers all done and will be funded in the days — moments — after the bill passes,” says U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills.

In other words, the Republicans’ filibustering has managed to make small-business hiring weaker than it would be if the Democrats had never tried to enact a bill to spur it. Hardball indeed.

The House managed to pass the bill in June by a vote of 241-182, but is has been stuck in the Senate ever since. Right before they left for the August recess — one month after beginning debate of the bill — Senate Dems held a cloture vote to try to break the Republican filibuster. They failed, 58-42. Sixty votes were needed. Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE] broke rank and voted along with every single Republican against the bill.

President Obama yesterday called once again for Republicans relent and let the bill through. “I ask Senate Republicans to drop the blockade,” Obama said. The bill is expected to be a top item on the Senate calendar when they return from recess on September 13th.

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