(Senate - October 13, 2011)

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[Pages S6474-S6477]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                            SMALL BUSINESSES

  Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. President, I wish to, first of all, kind of tag on 
to the remarks of the leader for just a second. One of the things I 
wish we would do in this body is get out of the business of demonizing 
certain segments of our population. Both sides are guilty of it, from 
time to time. But I wish to particularly talk about the major employer 
of the United States--small business--and the leader's reference to the 
5.6-percent surtax.
  Documents show that 392,000 American small businesses would be 
impacted by a 5.6-percent surtax in order to pay for the President's 
jobs bill. Records show that 72 percent of the American people are 
employed by small business.
  We have to ask ourselves this question: If we are interested in 
creating jobs, why would we target the job creator that creates three-
fourths of the jobs in America and put a surtax on them? It does not 
make any sense. If there were sincerity in that offer, those people 
would first and foremost be carved out on any punitive surtax and we 
probably would have more employment.
  I wanted to make that point. I will join anytime, anyplace, anywhere 
with the leader to work on creating jobs because that is job one for 
the United States of America.
  I was a small businessman for 33 years, ran a small business for 22 

[[Page S6475]]

I understand the heart and soul of small business. Today I come to the 
floor to talk about two small businesses in Georgia and the effect of 
regulation on those small businesses and the decisions they have made 
this year that impact employment and the economy.
  One is a lovely lady named Susan Kolowich. Susan is a dear friend of 
my wife's. My wife worked for her for 13 years, has not worked for her 
in the last 5 or 6 years. She opened a shop in East Cobb County, in 
Marietta, GA, 23 years ago called C'est Moi--``It is I.'' She loves 
France. She would go to France every year and buy, and she would bring 
back gifts which she sold in her gift shop.
  It was a successful small business for 23 years, so successful that 
her husband Jim, who had been a Subway sandwich shop owner, decided to 
open a restaurant called Cafe de Paris and join it with her C'est Moi 
shop so people could come and shop and eat and get a flavor of France. 
For 10 years he ran the restaurant and for 23 years she ran the store 
successfully. It was difficult in the last 3 or 4 years because of the 
economy, but they stayed in business. But finally she threw in the 
towel and sold the company. She sold her shop, and Jim, her husband, 
sold his restaurant. They sold them because they were up to here with 
the oppressive regulation of our government and the continued threat of 
things exactly like the surtax on their small business at a time in 
which sales are very difficult. That is not an abstract story, that is 
the truth. I am sure it is happening in Mississippi, and I am sure it 
is happening in Wyoming.
  Let me talk about a little bit larger small business, Hennessy Jaguar 
and Hennessy Land Rover over in Atlanta, GA. One of the principals in 
it is a guy named Steve Hennessy. Steve is a good friend of mine.
  On January 3 of this year, I went to the OK Cafe in Atlanta to join a 
couple for a meeting about some legislation. It is kind of the watering 
hole for breakfast in Atlanta. Everybody who is anybody kind of goes 
there. It is a great place to eat. When I walked in the door and walked 
past the cash register, where you can see out into the cafe, to see if 
my guests I was going to meet with were there, Steve spotted me. I was 
not going to meet with him. He jumped up and said: Johnny, I need to 
talk to you now. He ran across the restaurant. I thought he was going 
to give me a bear hug, he looked so excited. He got up close, and he 
put his index finger right on my chin. He said: I just fired a salesman 
and hired two compliance officers to comply with the credit 
requirements of Dodd-Frank.
  So regulation did create two jobs. It created two compliance 
officers, but it cost a salesman. Well, if you are punishing the 
salesman and rewarding the compliance officer, the economy is going to 
go straight down because you are punishing productivity, you are 
punishing job creation for the sake of regulatory compliance.
  Now, some regulation is good. I believe our job as legislators is to 
see to it that we mitigate risks for the American people. But this 
administration appears to think its job is to eliminate risk. Well, if 
you eliminate risk, you stay in bed--when you wake up in the morning, 
you stay there until night, you do not do anything because you do not 
take a risk. Capitalism is about risk. Risk and reward are about our 
  So when people talk about regulatory oppression, those are two 
stories in Atlanta, GA, where regulation has actually caused two 
businesses to be sold and jobs to be lost and another business to hire 
two people to comply with government regulation and fire someone who 
was in sales. It is backward at best, and it is wrong.
  So I say to the leader, who did make an acknowledgement that he 
wanted to mitigate regulation, let's sit down and let's find out what 
we need to do. Let's call a timeout. Let's do what Senator Collins from 
Maine said. Let's take a timeout for a year. Let's try to digest and 
absorb the regulations we have passed without continuing to put more 
threatening regulations on top of businesses at a time when we have 9.1 
percent unemployment in America, and in my State we have 10.2. It is 
time for us to be proactive on taking the shackles off American small 
businesses, not threaten them with surtaxes and not oppress them with 
regulation. Instead, let's work to empower small businesses to help us 
come out of this recession.
  I think my dear friend Senator Barrasso, the physician from the great 
State of Wyoming, wants to address precisely the same subject I am.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Wyoming is 
  Mr. BARRASSO. I am delighted to be joining my colleagues, Senator 
Isakson from Georgia, and Senator Wicker is here also from Mississippi. 
We think this is very important.
  The leader started talking about today and said we need to focus on 
jobs. That is what we wanted to focus on for all of the time of the 
Obama administration. But, no, the President ignored jobs--ignored jobs 
his first year in office, ignored jobs his second year in office. Here 
we are more than halfway through his third year in office, and finally 
the President has noticed what has been on the minds of the American 
  This is a President and a majority leader who forced through this 
body a health care law that is bad for patients; bad for providers, the 
nurses and doctors who take care of those patients; and bad for 
taxpayers, ignoring what the American people said they wanted to focus 
on, which was jobs, the economy, the debt, the spending. We see a 
majority leader who led this body to adding more to the debt--now $14 
trillion in debt--more debt, more spending, more money that is owed to 
  We need to put Americans to work. We need to get Americans back to 
work. The majority leader talked about 14 million Americans looking for 
jobs. There are over 4 million who have not worked for over a year. In 
that kind of a situation, it is going to be a lot harder for those 
folks to ever get a job again--ever get a job again.
  And the regulations just keep on coming. A month ago, the President 
came to the Hill, visited, and had a joint session of Congress. He 
said: I want to get rid of some of these regulations. He said: I can 
identify regulations--he came out with a list of about $4 billion worth 
of regulations--to lower the cost of business over the next 5 years. 
But in the month of September alone, this administration came out with 
230 proposed rules and 338 final rules. And if you go to what this 
administration says that those rules are going to cost the people of 
this country, cost the job creators of this country, even the 
administration, using their own numbers, that cost is going to be $10 
  I heard our colleague from Georgia talk about the paperwork, the 
compliance officers. Just yesterday, this administration came out, 
under Dodd-Frank, with new rules and regulations--proposed rules. They 
took only 11 pages of this massive bill, but only 11 pages, and when 
you look at the 298 pages of proposed rules that have come out, what do 
the government regulators, the Obama administration regulators, say it 
is going to cost the businesses of this country in terms of manhours 
having to be spent to comply with the paperwork? These aren't my 
numbers, these aren't Senators Isakson's numbers, these aren't Senator 
Wicker's numbers. Mr. President, 6,283,000 hours of paperwork. That is 
what the government experts say is going to have to be spent on 
paperwork to comply with one component of the Dodd-Frank law. How is 
that going to help? How is that kind of a drag on a society going to 
help create jobs?
  You know, the President says: If the Republicans have ideas, we want 
to hear them. The majority leader stood here and said: If the 
Republicans have ideas, we want to hear them. Well, a month ago, a 
month ago to this day, when the President came to the Hill, earlier 
that morning a number of colleagues, House and Senate Members, came to 
talk about a Western Caucus Jobs Frontier bill, a number of bills 
Republicans have proposed breaking down Washington's barriers to 
America's red, white, and blue jobs.

  The majority leader said we ought to spend more money. The President 
said we ought to spend more money. The President talked about his so-
called stimulus plan, and he said it was going to save or create 3.5 
million jobs. We have lost millions of jobs since this President came 
into office.
  The President talked about green jobs. He said his clean-energy 

[[Page S6476]]

would create 5 million new jobs. We have just seen the Solyndra 
situation--1,100 people fired because of bad bets by this 
administration. This is an administration that should not be betting 
with the taxpayers' money. It is not the administration's money. It is 
not the President's money. That is why the American people are so up in 
arms. They see what all of this spending is doing, and it is not 
helping jobs.
  I see my colleague from Mississippi is here. We can go back and forth 
and talk about this. I know he has examples and situations in 
Mississippi. I see them in Wyoming all of the time, people having to 
deal with the redtape coming out of Washington. The President talks a 
pretty good game, but when you look at what is happening out there, the 
American people are very disappointed. The American people deserve 
better than what they are getting from this administration.
  So I would ask my colleague from Mississippi whether there are things 
he sees happening to his friends and neighbors at home that we need to 
share with the rest of the country?
  Mr. WICKER. Well, there is no question about it. I appreciate my two 
friends coming down and helping with this colloquy today.
  There are two companies I want to talk about in a moment, but let me 
say at the outset that we all want to create jobs for Americans, there 
is no question about it. The President came into office wanting to 
create jobs. The problem is, he has not let history be a guide.
  If we go ahead with this second stimulus bill, we will be following 
the same failed programs that not only have not created jobs for 
Americans, but, as a matter of fact, the policies have made things 
worse for Americans and for job creation. The President's proposal and 
the proposal the majority leader just embraced is a ``spend now, pay 
later'' approach. It is one that has been proven not to work. Three 
years after we tried this at the beginning of the President's term, we 
have not put more Americans back to work.
  This should be a glaring reminder of the failures of the first 
stimulus package and the probability and likelihood that this second 
stimulus package would be met with the same result. What we have seen 
since the first stimulus is that the Federal debt has skyrocketed, 
there are nearly 2 million fewer jobs, and the economic growth is 
limping along at a meager 1 percent. So many other countries have a 
higher GDP growth than that. It is tragic that our country has not kept 
up. The unemployment rate has hovered at 9 percent for 30 months in a 
row. If you add in those who have given up looking for work or settled 
for part-time work, that number skyrockets from around 9 percent 
unemployment, which is an unspeakable number, to some 16 percent. In 
fact, some 6 million people have been without a job for more than 6 
  We know the President's policies are not working. We have seen very 
slow movement and, frankly, in many instances, that movement has been 
backward. The big-government approach of spend now and pay later has 
simply been a wet blanket for America's job creators.
  The fact is there are some things on which we can agree. In this time 
of divided government, we must approach the idea of job creation in a 
bipartisan manner. The House of Representatives is controlled by 
Republicans. This body is controlled by Democrats. The executive 
branch, including the regulatory regime in this country, is strictly 
controlled by the Democratic Party. So we need to work together in a 
step-by-step approach.
  A comprehensive package of ``pass this bill, pass this bill 
immediately without amendments'' has been rejected by both Democrats 
and Republicans in this city, and we now need to embark on a step-by-
step approach, and we can be quick about it. One example was yesterday. 
When we finally got around to it, the House of Representatives passed 
the trade bills, once the President sent them to us. That was done 
yesterday afternoon. By 7 or 8 last evening, the Senate passed all of 
these trade agreements on a huge bipartisan basis. So this is a step in 
the right direction. There are other things we can do. But I wish to 
commend the President for finally sending the trade bills to the 
Congress and for getting that done and opening the new markets. So that 
is a step.
  The Senator from Georgia mentioned some companies and some potential 
job creators in his State. My friend from Wyoming asked me to talk 
about examples in Mississippi.
  Actually, my wife Gail and I had an opportunity to participate in a 
christening of some boats in Gulfport, MS, just the day before 
yesterday. This was at the construction area of Trinity Yachts. I know 
what the initial reaction is: Why should we be concerned with yachts? I 
tell you why we should be concerned with yachts. Because we employ 
thousands upon thousands of Americans building those yachts.

  I will never own a yacht. I don't aspire to even travel on a yacht. 
But I am glad there are a bunch of people around the world who want to 
buy them, because we employ a thousand people at Trinity Yachts, and we 
want to increase that.
  As a matter of fact, what we helped christen the day before yesterday 
was not a yacht at all, it was two tugboats. Trinity Yacht makes 
tugboats, and they will be helping bring liquefied natural gas into the 
port of Pascagoula. So this shipyard built the tugs, Signet Maritime 
bought the tugs, and they will be creating jobs in Gulfport, and will 
be creating jobs at the Port of Pascagoula, and they want to create a 
lot more jobs.
  I was told by the management and ownership of Trinity Yachts that 
business is a little soft in the shipyard. But if the President would 
simply go back to what we used to have in terms of oil and gas 
permitting, if we would lift this de facto ban on oil wells in the Gulf 
of Mexico and get back to the business we had year before last, then 
business could be great guns at Trinity Yachts.
  We are not talking about yachts being constructed by Trinity, we are 
talking about oil and gas drilling platforms. The quicker permits and 
drilling projects in the Gulf of Mexico could bring about more than 
200,000 new jobs in the next year. That is a job creator proposal that 
is simple. All we need to do is enforce the law that is currently on 
the books and get back to permitting so we can get back to producing 
our own energy.
  The oil and natural gas sector is responsible for 9 million jobs, 
according to the Congressional Research Service, and we have in America 
the largest recoverable stores of natural gas, oil, and coal on Earth. 
So if you want to know another Republican proposal--which is a 
bipartisan proposal when you get down to it, because our gulf coast 
delegation consists of Republicans and Democrats--then here is a 
concrete proposal: Let's get back to producing our own energy resources 
in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere in the United States. Nine million 
jobs, and it could be more.
  Mr. ISAKSON. The Senator from Mississippi jogged my memory, and I 
want to jog his. He was in the House of Representatives in 1994, if I 
am not mistaken. I got here in 1999. But I remember the first year of 
the Clinton administration, when they put a luxury tax on yachts, yacht 
construction went out of business and thousands of jobs were lost. I 
don't know if Trinity is a sub S, an LLC, or a sole proprietorship, but 
it is probably one of those three types of corporations, and I am sure 
it is a small business. They are going to have a 5.6-percent surtax on 
their income because of what is in the proposal of the President, which 
is, allegedly, to pay for a jobs bill. So this is deja vu all over 
again. The administration is imposing more taxes to pay for government 
jobs that take money out of the pockets of small business that creates 
the jobs in America.
  Trinity Yachts--and I will do some research to find out if that is 
true, because I don't know the company--I will bet is one of the ones 
that pays their taxes as if they were an individual, and they would be 
affected by the tax the President is proposing, just like the yacht 
industry that was put out of business in 1993 because of the Clinton 
tax. So the Republicans took over in 1994 and reformed the Tax Code and 
cut Federal spending.
  Mr. WICKER. The point is, they are a bunch of average, hard-working 
Mississippians, average, hard-working Americans, who are glad to come 
to work each day, working hard to build these boats, and we ought to 
encourage them.

[[Page S6477]]

  I don't know the corporate structure of that particular job creator, 
but I know the larger point is that many of the job creators do pay 
taxes at the individual level. We know from research that four out of 
five of the taxpayers who would pay the higher taxes being proposed by 
the President are business owners--the very people we are hoping will 
create jobs, and create them soon for Americans.
  Mr. ISAKSON. I thank the Senator from Mississippi for his stories, 
which are true and to the point. My story was about two small 
businesses. And I thank the Senator physician from the great State of 
Wyoming, and I would ask if he has any additional remarks.
  Mr. BARRASSO. Well, I know you see this in Georgia and in 
Mississippi. We know what doesn't work. We know what doesn't work is 
more borrowing and more spending and overregulation and the threat of 
raising taxes on people and the job creators of this country. So there 
is much to be done, and that is why we actually came out with this Jobs 
Frontier--the western caucus did--because we want to increase 
affordable American energy.
  The President, when he was running for office, said under his 
proposals electricity costs would necessarily skyrocket. If you want a 
productive, vibrant economy, you need low-cost energy, and if you want 
a secure nation, you need American energy to do that. So when my 
colleague from the Gulf State of Mississippi talks about energy in the 
gulf, there is a lot there. I can talk about Wyoming from the 
standpoint of energy being available on Federal land, which is being 
blocked by regulations. We ought to be exploring for that energy as 
well as in Alaska. So there is much we can do to make our country 
stronger, safer, more secure, better, and more vibrant, but the 
proposal put forth by the President--and here I agree with my colleague 
from Mississippi--is another spending bill--just spending--as the first 
stimulus was. It is a bill that is not going to do what we need to do 
to get this economy going in a vibrant sense. From my perspective, the 
No. 1 thing we should do is stop doing what we know doesn't work.
  Mr. ISAKSON. Well, I want to conclude, unless the Senator from 
Mississippi has anything to add.
  Mr. WICKER. Well, just to say this, and I will take a minute to say 
it and then I will thank my friend from Georgia for taking the lead on 
this colloquy.
  We also need to show job creators that we are actually serious about 
fixing our fiscal house. You know, we have had the Gang of 6, we have 
had the Simpson-Bowles Commission, we have had Dr. Coburn and Senator 
Lieberman with a proposal, and we have had Alice Rivlin's proposal--an 
expert on budgetary matters. We know the solutions that are out there, 
and they are hard to do politically. They would subject us all to 
intense political criticism and a firestorm. But if we do it on a 
bipartisan basis for the good of this country now, for the good of not 
only job creators today and people out there who are dying to come back 
to work but also for future generations, then we can do the right 
  I will simply say this: I call on the President of the United States 
to give us some leadership on working together on a bipartisan basis to 
make these tough decisions. If we do it together, as Ronald Reagan and 
Tip O'Neill did in the 1980s, we can make the case to the American 
people that sometimes you have to do hard things, but we do things on a 
bipartisan basis to create jobs and to make a better future for future 
generations. It will not be done unless the Chief Executive of the 
United States of America comes forward and signals a willingness to 
hold hands with us and do the right thing for the future.
  I desperately hope in these final months of 2011 we can get that 
signal sent to the committee of 12, and that we can work together to 
make major, significant structural changes that will save our fiscal 
  I thank my colleague.
  Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Mississippi, and 
I will close by simply saying you have heard three Republicans this 
morning talking about differences we might have on regulation and on 
tax policy, but you have also heard the distinguished Senator from 
Mississippi, the physician Senator from Wyoming, and myself, from the 
State of Georgia, say we are ready, we are willing, and we are hopeful 
that we can sit down together as a Congress--not as a partisan Congress 
but as a bipartisan Congress--and find solutions to the regulatory 
problems, find incentives for businesses to invest, and find ways we 
can create jobs in the private sector, because in the end that is where 
job creation takes place.

  I will end with where Senator Reid started in his remarks. Yesterday 
was a landmark day. Republicans and Democrats came together and passed 
three free-trade agreements which will create jobs in the United States 
of America. Our problem is we waited almost a thousand days to do it. 
Let's start accelerating those decisions that must be made to bring us 
together. Let's find ways to cut our spending, empower our businesses, 
and find ways to regulate in a positive way, not in a suppressive and 
oppressive way on American small businesses.
  Senator Wicker, Senator Isakson, and Senator Barrasso are three who 
stand ready to join in doing that, anytime, anyplace, anywhere.
  I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak in 
morning business for 15 minutes.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so