Sunday, December 06, 2009

Obama Visits Allentown, PA Officials' Remarks

As you have all no doubt read by now Pres. Obama visited Allentown on Friday. Intrepid newspaper blogger John Micek live blogged the event on Capitol Ideas. You can review the entries online. One tidbit -- Congressional Reps. Chris Carney and Allyson Schwartz flew in with Obama on Air Force 1. John Morgan over at the Pennsylvania Progressive has some video from the event as well as video interviews with selected luminaries attending. Josh Shapiro tweeted that he was at the event.

Here are a few selected press releases on the event:

Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-08)

U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz issued the following statement today after attending a White House forum on jobs and economic growth with President Obama at Lehigh Carbon Community College, Schnecksville, Pennsylvania .

“Over the past ten months, Congress and the Obama Administration have taken numerous steps to spur economic growth in this country- from extending business tax breaks and benefits to homebuyers to stabilizing the financial system and reviving lending to small businesses and families.

Earlier this year, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which has created or saved more than 640,000 jobs so far, cut taxes for middle class families and extended unemployment insurance for those in need.

“But as our economy continues to recover, we must continue our efforts to create jobs and help those who are struggling. I applaud President Obama for convening today’s forum on job creation. It is a clarion call to action and it engages the American people in helping us craft a successful strategy that will help businesses and create jobs now.”

Scranton Mayor and Governor Candidate Chris Doherty:
Mayor Chris Doherty released the following statement today in support of President Obama’s appearance in Allentown, PA and the president’s efforts to reduce unemployment and create jobs.

“I couldn’t be more pleased that President Obama chose to make Allentown the site of his jobs speech today. Pennsylvania and especially the Lehigh Valley have been hit hard by the worldwide economic downturn. It’s encouraging to see the president put a focus on putting people back to work and helping us make Pennsylvania the best state in the country for families.

“Growing up, Pennsylvania was a national leader. We had good jobs, a strong economy, and great resources for families. We invested in our children, our future, and ourselves. But somewhere along the way, we became satisfied with ‘good enough.’

“I’ve never been satisfied with ‘good enough,’ so the cornerstone of my campaign for governor is to create jobs in Pennsylvania. That is my number one priority. That’s what we did in Scranton. We created thousands of new jobs and brought in more than $500 million in new investment. Now BusinessWeek says we’re the best city in Pennsylvania for raising children and Money magazine calls us one of the fastest growing real-estate markets in the country.

“As governor, I’ll start working to create new jobs on Day One by helping existing Pennsylvania businesses grow and by attracting new business to our state. That’s how we’ll make Pennsylvania the best state in the country for families and a place you’re proud to call your home.”

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-07) and Senate candidate:
Following President Obama's Friday visit to Allentown to discuss job creation, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Congressman Joe Sestak, who vice-chairs the House Small Business Committee, issued the following statement:

"The latest unemployment figures released today-- which included a reduction in the unemployment rate-- shows that our economic recovery efforts have worked and stopped the cratering of our economy.

"As the President rightfully points out, if we had not acted quickly and aggressively with a recovery package earlier this year, we would not have stabilized our economy as we now have. Without addressing the economic situation earlier this year, GDP would not have returned to its previous 2007 peak until 2014; three million additional Americans would have lost their jobs in the first half of 2009; and the unemployment rate would be over 12% percent. Instead, the economic recovery package I voted for earlier this year:

* Added 2.7 percentage points to the nation's economic growth in the third quarter for an overall growth of 3.5%. In the last six months of the Bush Administration, the GDP declined 6%. Without the package, growth would have only reached .8%;
* Created and salvaged more than 600,000 jobs; and
* Cut job losses by 40 percent in each of the second and third quarters of this year (from 700,000 average monthly losses in January through March, to 190,000 losses in October).

"Despite the evident success of our recovery efforts, further efforts are immediately necessary to ensure a lasting recovery that restores security to all Americans. It is clear that President Obama recognizes the urgency with which we must act. Job creation through small business development must now be our nation's highest economic priority. Specifically, we now need to create almost 11 million jobs by the end of 2011 -- nearly 600,000 jobs every month. It can be done, as it was under President Truman in the 1950s, but it is going to take a committed and concerted effort. To do so, I have called for nine job creating policies that will get jobs flowing immediately:

* Pass a Job Creation tax credit
* Provide a jobs tax credit that rewards small businesses for hiring new workers
* Increase Maximum SBA Loan Sizes to Allow Businesses To Access The Credit They Need To Expand And Create New Jobs
* Strengthen the safety net and provide relief for those directly impacted by the recession
* Increase cap on Small Business Administration Loans from the current rate of 6%
* Raise the limit of the Small Business Administration's loan guarantees from 90% to as high as 97.5%
* Promote work-share programs
* Provide fiscal relief to the States
* Inject Infrastructure Funds
* Extend Accelerated Depreciation Benefits for Small Businesses

"As the Vice-Chair of the Small Business Committee, I know that the only real measure of an economic recovery to working families is jobs -- for themselves, their families, and their communities. That is why I have introduced legislation to extend COBRA health benefits, increase aid to state and local governments, and provide new incentives for small businesses to create new jobs. This is the sort of leadership that Pennsylvanians deserve, not the non-accountable approach to oversight, accountability and fiscal discipline of Republicans President Bush, Pat Toomey and Arlen Specter's that led us into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

"Now that our economic recovery efforts have brought the nation's economy back from the brink of collapse, we must double our efforts, get serious about job creation and ensure a lasting recovery for working families," said Congressman Sestak.

Rep. Paul Kanjorski:
Today, Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (PA-11) joined President Obama as the President kicked off his White House to Main Street jobs tour in Allentown. Congressman Kanjorski flew on Air Force One with the President from Washington to Allentown. While on Air Force One, Congressman Kanjorski personally gave the President a letter outlining recommendations for initiatives that will help create American jobs. The letter detailed two of Congressman Kanjorski’s bills. H.R. 3380 would enable credit unions to make more small business loans and create as many as 108,000 jobs just in the first year after enactment. H.R. 3007 would provide a needed revenue source for municipalities to aid with services for residents, infrastructure, and job creation. Congressman Kanjorski also stated his support for providing additional federal funding for the Economic Development Administration which has a proven track record of using federal funding for local projects and creating jobs.

“I applaud President Obama’s efforts to work to reduce unemployment and create American jobs,” said Congressman Kanjorski. “As Congress works on a new jobs creation package, there are specific actions that we can take to further these goals. Today, while on Air Force One with the President, I handed him a letter detailing three initiatives that I think will help create needed jobs. Additionally, on Wednesday, I sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging her to include a bill that I introduced in the jobs creation package, which would enable credit unions to make more small business loans and create thousands of jobs. In order to effectively and efficiently create more jobs, we must take action now. My proposals could help lead the way.”

The text of Congressman Kanjorski’s letter from December 4 which he personally delivered to President Obama on Air Force One follows:

Dear Mr. President:

The purpose of this letter is to share with you initiatives that I believe would help foster job creation and should be considered for inclusion in legislation to reduce unemployment in the United States. Specifically, I request that you support increasing lending to small businesses through credit unions, provide revenue to local governments through a direct funding stream and increase funding for the Economic Development Administration. I appreciate your attention to this matter.

Increasing Small Business Lending Through Credit Unions

Earlier this year, I introduced H.R. 3380, the Promoting Lending to America’s Small Businesses Act of 2009. As you may know, an arbitrary restriction imposed in 1998 capped credit unions’ business lending at 12.25 percent of the credit union’s total assets. Prior to the enactment of this statute, credit unions had no cap on their member business lending activities.

In response, I introduced bipartisan legislation, H.R. 3380, to increase the credit union member business lending cap from 12.25 percent of a credit union’s total assets to 25 percent. In addition, H.R. 3380 would raise the de minimus level of a credit union business loan to $250,000 and would exclude loans made in underserved areas from the cap. According to a recent analysis by the Credit Union National Association, these reforms have the potential to create as many as 108,000 jobs and make available as much as $10 billion in credit to small businesses in the first year after enactment.

Providing Fiscal Assistance to Local Governments

In June 2009, I introduced H.R. 3007, the Local Fiscal Assistance Act to provide local governments with an infusion of funds to assist them through these difficult economic times. The program is similar to the successful General Revenue Sharing Program of the 1970s and 1980s. H.R. 3007 authorizes $30 billion a year for the next three years in assistance to local governments. Allocations of funds would take into account population, tax effort and income within each state and local area. Funds would then be distributed to localities within that state. State governments, however, would not receive payments under this program. Providing funds directly to local governments would address pressing local needs and provide a source of revenue for undertaking job-creating infrastructure projects, maintaining public safety networks and offering social services.

Increasing Funding for the Economic Development Administration

Finally, I support providing supplemental funding for the Economic Development Administration at least double the 2009 annual appropriation level of $273 million. As you know, EDA provides investment to locally-developed and regional-based economic development projects in distressed areas characterized by high levels of unemployment and low per-capita income levels. Because EDA funds are among the most flexible of any federal assistance program, I have long supported funding for this agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, particularly EDA’s Public Works and Economic Development Program.

Many projects in my Congressional District have received funding through EDA’s programs. EDA reports that from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2009, it has awarded over $5 million through its programs to projects in my Congressional District. These federal funds have helped leverage nearly $150 million in private investment and created almost 2,000 jobs. From my perspective, EDA’s Programs have a proven track record of ensuring the federal government gets the most bang for its buck when investing in economic development projects and should receive additional funding.

Again, thank you for your consideration of my views. I look forward to continuing to work with you.

Obama's remarks will be in a separate post. [Update: The president's remarks are too lengthy to post. However, they are on the White House site if you wish to read them.

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