WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today urged U.S. Department of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to dig deeper and find long-term solutions to the nation’s unemployment crisis.  Snowe insisted the Administration act with urgency to address the economic emergency that has left 14 million Americans unemployed during the worst post-recession recovery in the nation’s history.

Senator Snowe said:

“Current economic policy emanating from Washington isn’t working, as the facts illustrate.  The average annual unemployment rate for 2010 was 9.6 percent and for 27 out of the past 32 months the unemployment rate has been at or above a staggering 9 percent.  When one remedy after another fails to solve the crisis, it is long past time for the alarm bells to sound for Congress to address what exactly is imperiling the small businesses we depend on to create jobs.  If you listen to those businesses, as I do on my Main Street tours, they will tell you loud and clear: they want a simpler tax code, fewer regulations, and a practical solution to the nation’s debt and deficit. 

“The new $30 billion Lending Fund created by the Jobs Act reinforces my serious concern over how the Administration has failed to create the economic and job conditions that will spur our recovery.  At the time that the Jobs Act was discussed on the Senate Floor, I warned on July 22, 2010 and September 16, 2010 about concerns I had with the Lending Fund and that the last thing we should be considering was another massive, $30 billion new and expansive federal program that so closely resembled TARP.   But proponents of the legislation didn’t listen.  They claimed repeatedly that the program would be immensely popular with the 7,000 community lenders across our nation requiring a full $30 billion.  And now, one year later, 137 of the 332 participating banks have used the program to refinance their TARP loans and $1.8 billion is being utilized for actual small business lending.  Based on stagnant unemployment data, it is clear that a program that took nine months to come online has made no measurable impact on job creators orjobless Americans. 

“Congress owes it to American taxpayers and job creators to address these priorities urgently.  There have been too many faulty assumptions and miscalculations and it would serve this Administration well to take a tour of Main Street and talk to the average person unfettered and unfiltered to hear their concerns over the mixed messages coming out of this administration on tax and regulatory policy.  After three years of virtually the same unemployment numbers, we must make long term, fundamental and predictable changes that will provide families and small businesses the certainty for which they are so desperate.”

Click here to view Senator Snowe's exchange with Secretary Geithner regarding the critical imperative to listen to Main Street.

BACKGROUND:  A leader in tax and regulatory reform and practical solutions to the nation’s debt and deficit, Senator Snowe has undertaken several initiatives this Congress in response to these top concerns from job creators in Maine and nationwide.

Tax Reform:  Senator Snowe has consistently advocated for a comprehensive overhaul of the 25-year old tax code.  Snowe has insisted that, “The impact of a broad-brushed tax increase above an arbitrary threshold would be devastating to Maine’s economy and underscores our imperative to overhaul this 25-year old code completely.  For the sake of both the long-term sustainability of our nation’s budget and creating certainty and predictability for families and job creators, Congress should proceed with tax reform in a comprehensive manner.”

Regulatory Reform:  On June 20, the U.S. Senate voted in favor (53-46) of the FREEDOM Act, which U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) and Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-Oklahoma) offered as an amendment on the Senate floor.   The amendment was not adopted however, due to a parliamentary maneuver requiring a 60 vote threshold. Additionally, a majority of members on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the committee given jurisdiction over the legislation, voted in favor of the Snowe/Coburn amendment.  Senator Snowe testified before that committee in support of her bill on June 23, 2011.

Fiscal Sustainability:  Senator Snowe recently joined Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, to introduce the Honest Budget Act, a nine-plank legislative package that targets Washington’s most dishonest budget gimmicks and accounting tricks.