U.S. Congressional District 12
The 12th Congressional District includes Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO, Willamsburg,
Bushwick, Sunset Park, Ridgewood, and parts of the Lower East Side.
Help Small Business, Not the Wealthy
By Nydia M. Velázquez
March 26, 2004
If you had listened to President George W. Bush's
speech in Bay Ridge on March 11, you might think all
is well for New York City's economy. Mayor Michael
Bloomberg agrees with Bush, saying that "jobs are
coming back to the Big Apple."
But the facts tell a very different story. In January,
New York City's unemployment rate was 8.4 percent,
compared to 5.6 percent nationally. This awards New
York the worst performance of our country's top 20
The city's economy has lost some 230,000 jobs since
President Bush took office in January 2001. Some
900,000 New Yorkers now receive food stamps, and
personal bankruptcies are on the rise. This certainly
does not paint the rosy picture the Bush
administration would like New Yorkers to see and
We have not witnessed the kind of economic recovery
and sustained job creation that the White House
promises times and time again, and a major cause of
that is this administration's hardheadedness.
Instead of realizing that huge tax cuts for the
wealthy will do little to stimulate our economy and
produce jobs, the Bush camp continues to push for
making the tax cuts permanent, sending the record
deficit soaring even higher and largely ignoring the
most important economic sector in the United States ?-
small businesses. The White House plan has not worked,
yet the administration adamantly sticks to it.
Closed cinema: 329 Broadway, Williamsburg
Small businesses are the backbone of the American
economy -- and of our local economies. Entrepreneurs
generate three out of every four new jobs in the
United States and account for 99 percent of all
employers. During tough economic times, the small
business sector generates jobs instead of shipping
them overseas, like large corporations do.
Just as he did in Bay Ridge, President Bush
consistently touts his tax cuts as playing a large
role in jumpstarting the economy. Yet according to
Citizens for Tax Justice, a group that works for more
equitable tax policies, the Bush tax cut benefited the
top one percent of New Yorkers the most, and raised
the federal debt burden of New York residents by
approximately $9,500 per person, or $37,800 for a
family of four.
More than half of all New Yorkers will receive less
than $100 from Bush's $350 billion 2003 tax bill, and
the majority of New York small businesses will
receive, on average, less than $100.
In addition, Bush's latest budget cuts critical
programs aimed at New York's small business sector and
at providing job training. For example, the president
proposed eliminating the Microloan program, which
provides capital to underserved entrepreneurs, even
though it infused more than $2 million into the New
York economy last year alone.
Sadly, it also proposes to severely underfund the
Manufacturing Extension Partnership program that has
helped thousands of New York's small and mid-sized
manufacturers become more competitive each year. This
program provides a variety of help to manufacturers,
such as assisting them with management systems,
designing their facilities, marketing, financial
planning and electronic commerce.
Many small businesses rely on technical assistance
provided through the Small Business Administration's
Small Business Development Centers. The development
center at Boricua College in Brooklyn has worked with
over 8,000 businesses, helping them invest almost $30
million into the area's economy since its inception in
1986. Yet each year the Bush budget has provided no
increase in funding for the small business centers,
which amounts to a 10 percent cut after inflation is
taken into account.
In addition, President Bush's budget for the coming
fiscal year slashes $286 million for job training and
employment services, on top of the $1.5 billion in
cuts to these programs in the last three years. The
Bush budget makes cuts to the One-Stop Career Centers,
aimed at providing job training and employment
services to small firms and individuals, threatening
the future of New York City's One-Stop network.
The proposed cutbacks are a peculiar move for an
administration that has lost millions of manufacturing
jobs under its watch, including almost 140,000 in New
Such shortsighted policies that push small businesses
and families to the sidelines will not help to get
this economy back on track and put New Yorkers back to
work. Instead, it will foster an ever-widening gap
between the haves and the have nots. This kind of
polarization is bad for our city, our state -- and for
the nation as a whole. It also explains the kind of
schizophrenic economic recovery that the country is
currently experiencing, where the economy is growing
but the number of jobs is not.
The way back to economic prosperity and job creation
is investment in our small business sector, in our
neighborhoods, and in our hardworking families. We
cannot continue to allow this administration to gamble
our future on tax cuts and leave our children without
Social Security and Medicare. But that is exactly what
President Bush's policies have done.
All I can say is, let's not hope for another four
Nydia M. Velázquez is the U.S.
representative for the 12th district, which includes
part of Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. She is the
ranking Democrat on the Small Business Committee.
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