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More Groups React to Bailout Bill

By Irene Jones
October 3, 2008

While it was no secret that senators Barrack Obama and John McCain announced weeks ago that they would vote for the $700 billion so-called "bailout bill," signed by President George W. Bush earlier today, some national Hispanic and commerce groups are weighing in with their opinions about how the financial-market rescue plan should have been handled.

The Wall Street bailout vote was a "bitter pill" for small businesses to swallow, according to Todd Stottlemyer, president of the National Federation of Independent Business. He added that the need for credit to keep small businesses running is the only reason why there was support from his group.

Adding the tax incentive provision to the bill helped leaders in the tech industry push for passage. Solar industry groups also saw the advantage of the tax incentives for their market and lobbied approximately 80 House opponents in an effort to convince them of the advantages of passing the bill.

The American Small Business League expressed disappointment that Sen. Obama voted for the latest Senate version of the Wall Street bailout bill due to language that organization claims could be used by government to limit contracting opportunities for minority and woman-owned businesses.

Christopher Gunn, communications director for the ASBL, cited Section 107 of the new law, which will give Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson the power to waive any provisions of the Federal Acquisition Regulations. Mr. Gunn explained to the media that Paragraph 9 (b) of the bill specifically mentions the waiver of "any provision of the Federal Acquisition Regulations pertaining to minority contracting" and wavier of provisions pertaining to "woman-owned businesses."

Mr. Gunn explained, "In summary, the language states that Secretary Paulson may waive existing federal law and provisions of the Federal Acquisition Regulations, establishing specific numerical contracting goals for minority and woman-owned firms and replace it with a completely unenforceable statement of intent to use minority and woman-owned firms 'to the maximum extent practicable.'" And because there are no time limits on these possible waivers, he added, they possibly could continue indefinitely, which has many industry leaders concerned.

Mr. Gunn said the budget and staff for the SBA has been reduced and a federal law established seven years ago to encourage woman-owned firms has yet to be implemented. He also pointed to recent findings by a federal government audit showing contractor options have been reduced for minority-owned firms. As of last week, the SBA suspended taking applications for its small disadvantaged business contracting program after a Bush administration commission issued a report that said the federal government should cut back contracting opportunities for minority-owned firms.

Referring to the Web site, www.barrackobama.com, media officials for the candidate's campaign said Sen. Obama encourages investors to support women-owned businesses. Current statistics show less than 4 percent of venture-capital-backed firms are headed by women, while more than 28 percent of U.S. businesses are owned by women.

Campaign officials said Sen. Obama's strategy is to bolster small businesses in the future by cutting health care costs, providing tax relief and improving access to capital and investment development, including creation of high-tech jobs and fostering a supportive environment for minority-owned small businesses, which face unique challenges in rural areas.



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