Living in Sacramento County, it is obvious that people are hurting. They are trying to do the right thing, to work hard and care for their families. But too often this is not enough. For too many, America’s promise of opportunity is beginning to seem empty.
It is clear that the Sacramento region has been hit particularly hard by the recent economic downturn. There are also formidable roadblocks to recovery, including slowed GDP growth, tight credit, excess capacity markets, and general cautiousness towards hiring.
These challenges are real, but not insurmountable. We need to take bold steps to empower small businesses, reinvest in our children and workforce, streamline government and balance our budgets, restore integrity to our financial system, and capitalize on our region’s unique strengths.
Getting our region and our country’s economy back on track requires strong leadership rooted in commonsense values and practical solutions.
Empower Small Businesses
In today’s economy, small businesses employ over half of America’s workers, create nearly two-thirds of all new jobs, and are responsible for over 97 percent of all exported goods. Our economic policy needs to better reflect the central role of small firms in job creation. This means improving access to capital; extending small business R&D tax credits for the long-term; instituting fairer and simpler tax codes for small businesses; and reforming our healthcare system to contain debilitating costs.
Access to capital. Nothing is more important to the success of our small businesses than having access to adequate financing. We need to make loan approval processes simpler and more accessible for the average small business owner; expand existing Small Business Administration loan and micro-loan programs to provide better start-up and long-term financing options; and strengthen the lending power of community banks and credit unions. Additionally, we should consider extending tax credits to venture capital funds with proven track records for seeding successful small business startups.
A fair and simple approach. For decades, corporate lobbyists have used their influence to secure unfair tax breaks for big corporations, while leaving small businesses with an undue tax burden. In Congress, I will support legislation to end capital gains taxes on investments in small business and start-ups. I will support tax credits for small businesses creating new jobs here in America. And I will work to eliminate unnecessary regulations, so that owners of small firms can focus less on costly record keeping and more on the real task of running their business.
Research and Development. Throughout our nation’s history, small businesses have spurred some of our greatest technological advancements. But today, our government is not doing enough to help small businesses invest in the research and development necessary to create good jobs here at home. I will make sure small businesses are adequately incentivized to improve their competitiveness and drive American enterprise.
Reinvest in Our Children and Workforce
We must invest in public education and workforce training, so that young people and a transitioning workforce have the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed. Improving education must align proper funding with substantive reform to prepare our students for a diversity of careers in a changing global environment. For California to provide the best education in the world once again, we need both sufficient resources and strong leadership. All over the region, education leaders are partnering with business and civic organizations to transform our schools and colleges for a twenty-first century economy. With strong leadership in Washington, together we can ensure that our students are developing relevant skills, and that workers have access to cutting edge apprenticeships, continuing education, and other skill development programs.
Strengthen Regional Opportunity
Sacramento County is positioned to become a national hub for emerging technologies and industries. In particular, clean energy and health care are consistently recognized for their potential to create thousands of new well-paying jobs in our area. This capacity for growth, however, depends on our willingness to step up and invest in emerging markets. Washington needs to be a partner, not an obstacle, in helping entrepreneurs start new businesses and create jobs in Sacramento County.
I will advocate aggressively to make sure our local entrepreneurs and businesses are at the front of the line to gain from green initiatives, while also ensuring that resources are allocated and implemented in the smartest, most efficient ways possible. For too long, we have tolerated members of Congress that fight harder for their party bosses than their constituents back home. As someone who has lived and served in this area my entire career—working closely with businesses, non-profits, and state and county services—I know first-hand what our region has to offer and I am committed to bring folks together to achieve our region’s economic potential.
Streamline Government, Balance the Budget
The role of government is not to solve all our problems, but to create a context of opportunity for individuals, families and communities to work hard, succeed, and shape the life they desire. I will support federal policy to balance our budget and aggressively reduce government waste and inefficiency, so that we can get the most out of every taxpayer dollar and address the great challenges of our day: protecting our country, investing in a new economy, and ensuring the education and health of our children and workforce.
Government debt is the single greatest threat to long-term, sustainable economic recovery and job creation. It is also a threat to our national security, as almost half of our nation’s $15 trillion debt is financed by foreign countries like Japan and China. It is time to return to an ethic of responsibility and fiscal toughness so that our children can be safe and prosperous for generations to come.
We can reign in this irresponsible spending with two commonsense reforms. First, we must reinstitute the “Pay-As-You-Go” rule, which would restore discipline to the budgeting process by requiring offsets for any new spending. Second, we must hold Congress accountable by enacting a permanent version of the “No Budget, No Pay” legislation that would ensure that members of Congress don’t get paid if they don’t do their job and pass a responsible budget.
Along with increased budget discipline, we need to prioritize smart investments in our economy that depend more on creative private-public partnerships and less on taxpayer dollars. Now more than ever, community needs can be served through non-governmental means. We need to leverage public resources by creating a context for social entrepreneurs, private philanthropy, non-profits, faith groups, and civic organizations to most effectively serve the common good.
Clean Up Wall Street
Hold Wall Street Accountable. We need to restore commonsense values to our financial system, so that corporate CEOs and hedge fund financiers are just as accountable for their actions as Main Street business owners. In Congress, I will fight for fundamental reforms to ensure America’s families are no longer subject to the irresponsibility and greed that recently brought our economy to the edge of collapse.
End bailouts, golden parachutes, and outrageous CEO bonuses. Oversized financial institutions and their executives have been rewarded for recklessness for too long. Taxpayers must never again be responsible to bailout massively consolidated—“too big to fail”—banks, while CEOs get away scot-free with Golden Parachutes and million-dollar bonuses.
Close corporate loopholes. For years, our federal tax policy has been laden with loopholes that allow the rich to get richer, while siphoning off billions of dollars that could be helping middle class American families and small businesses. We need to expose corporate loopholes and close down offshore tax havens, so that corporations and their executives pay their fair share.
End credit card scams. Too often, consumers are victims of deceptive credit and loan contracts that they don’t fully understand and can’t afford. We need financial protections that increase transparency and prevent credit card companies from the trick and trap practices largely responsible for the recent epidemic of bankruptcies and foreclosures nationwide.