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Blog Entries from 2011

Acting Secretary Blank Highlights the Obama Administration's Pro-Business Record

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank Delivering the Keynote Address at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance Annual Meeting

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank today delivered the keynote address at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance Annual Meeting, where she highlighted the different ways the American Jobs Act would make an immediate impact on job creation: cutting taxes for small businesses, putting more money in the pockets of consumers through an expanded payroll tax cut, and preventing the layoffs of teachers, firefighters and policemen, while putting construction workers to work through much-needed renovations to school, roads, rail and airports renovations.

Blank also discussed the Obama administration’s record supporting business expansion, highlighting the 17 different small business tax cuts implemented by the administration, major reform of the patent system that will bring the ideas of innovators to market faster, and investments in education and infrastructure that will help businesses thrive.

The American Jobs Act would:

  • Slash the payroll tax in half for 98 percent of businesses, benefitting 410,000 Florida companies;
  • Allow localities to avoid laying off teachers, firefighters and cops – 25,900 in Florida alone;
  • Modernize at least 35,000 public schools, supporting renovations across the country and as many as 16,600 jobs in Florida;
  • Put the long-term unemployed – a group that totals 498,000 in Florida – back to work by making the most innovative reforms to unemployment insurance in 40 years;
  • Extend unemployment insurance, preventing 5 million Americans, including 148,500 in Florida, from losing their benefits; and,
  • Cut payroll taxes in half for 160 million workers next year, giving the typical Florida family a $1,730 tax cut.

Remarks

The American Jobs Act: Full of Bipartisan Ideas

View of Joint Session from birds-eye view (White House photo)

The American people understand that the economic crisis and the deep recession weren’t created overnight and won’t be solved overnight. The economic security of the middle class has been under attack for decades. That’s why President Obama believes we need to do more than just recover from this economic crisis—we need to rebuild the economy the American way, together, based on balance, fairness, and the same set of rules for everyone from Wall Street to Main Street. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle should lend their bipartisan support for the American Jobs Act—because it is full of bipartisan ideas.   White House fact sheet and overview

Acting Secretary Blank Visits University of Toledo to Highlight the American Jobs Act

Blank and Dean of College of Business and Innovation Thomas G. Gutteridge

Blank also meets with local business leaders as part of White House Business Council outreach effort

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank today toured the University of Toledo Clean and Alternative Energy Business Incubator, a program that supports collaboration between clean energy companies and the university in order to help grow the clean and alternative energy industry in the region.  Since its opening in 2005, the incubator has had a regional economic impact of more than $700 million.   

At the University of Toledo, Blank discussed details of President Obama’s American Jobs Act.  Blank highlighted the different ways the plan could make an immediate impact on job creation: cutting taxes for small businesses, putting more money in the pockets of consumers through an expanded payroll tax cut, and preventing the layoffs of teachers, firefighters and policemen, while putting construction workers to work through much-needed renovations to school, roads, railways and airports. Blank underlined the need for Congress to act quickly on the bipartisan measures in the Jobs Act.

The American Jobs Act: Tax Relief for Every American Worker and Family

President Obama urges passage of American Jobs Act (White House news conference photo)

President Barack Obama continues to urge Congress to approve the American Jobs Act, introduced in September, which contains a focus on tax relief for American workers and their families.

The president's plan envisions putting more money in the pockets of every American worker and family:

  • Cutting Payroll Taxes in Half for 160 Million Workers Next Year: The President’s plan will expand the payroll tax cut passed last December by cutting workers payroll taxes in half next year. This provision will provide a tax cut of $1,500 to the typical family earning $50,000 a year. As with the payroll tax cut passed in December 2010, the American Jobs Act will specify that Social Security will still receive every dollar it would have gotten otherwise, through a transfer from the General Fund into the Social Security Trust Fund.
  • Helping More Americans Refinance Mortgages at Today’s Historically Low Interest Rates: The President has instructed his economic team to work with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, their regulator the FHFA, major lenders and industry leaders to remove the barriers that exist in the current refinancing program (HARP) to help more borrowers benefit from today’s historically low interest rates. This has the potential to not only help these borrowers, but their communities and the American taxpayer, by keeping borrowers in their homes and reducing risk to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.   White House news conference video   |   American Jobs Act Fact Sheet

The American Jobs Act: Tax Cuts to Help America’s Businesses Hire and Grow

Categories:
The American Jobs Act Cover

President Obama held a press conference today to continue his fight for Congress to pass the American Jobs Act. He explained what needs to happen to boost economic growth in the United States. One of the key proposals are tax cuts for small businesses. The president’s plan includes new tax cuts to businesses that provide immediate incentives for firms to hire and invest. These tax cuts would be available to all businesses, regardless of size, but are designed to target their impact towards the smallest businesses.

Key elements of his proposal are:

  • A payroll tax cut to businesses, with a focus on small employers ($65 billion in combination with the payroll tax holiday for new wages)
  • A complete payroll tax holiday for new jobs or wage increases
  • Extend 100 percent business expensing through 2012 ($5 billion)
  • Help entrepreneurs and small businesses access capital and grow

A payroll tax cut to businesses, with a focus on small employers ($65 billion in combination with the payroll tax holiday for new wages)

The president’s plan will extend the payroll tax cut to firms by cutting in half their payroll tax on the first $5 million in payroll. Next year, instead of paying 6.2 percent on their payroll expenses, firms would pay only 3.1 percent. The president’s plan would provide tax cuts for all firms, with focused relief on the 98 percent with less than $5 million in payroll.

How It Would Work for a Typical Firm: A construction firm with 50 workers earning an average of $50,000 a year–for a total payroll of $2.5 million–would receive a payroll tax cut of 3.1 percent of its total payroll, or about $80,000. The firm’s workers would receive an average tax cut of about $1,500 a year from the employee side payroll tax cut in the president’s plan.

NIST Colleagues Congratulate Shechtman on Nobel Chemistry Prize

Meeting at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 1985 just months after shaking the foundations of materials science with publication of his discovery of quasicrystals, Daniel Shechtman, winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, discusses the material’s surprising atomic structure with collaborators.  From left to right are Shechtman; Frank Biancaniello, NIST; Denis Gratias, National Science Research Center, France;  John Cahn, NIST; Leonid Bendersky, Johns Hopkins University (now at NIST); and Robert Schaefer, NIST.

Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) colleagues of Dan Shechtman joined others in the scientific community today in congratulating him on winning the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Shechtman made his astonishing discovery of a quasicrystal—an arrangement of atoms thought to be forbidden by nature—while working as a guest researcher at NIST (then known as the National Bureau of Standards) in 1982.

Shechtman is currently a professor at the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion).

“We are thrilled that Dr. Shechtman’s pioneering work has been recognized with this well-deserved prize,” said NIST Director Patrick Gallagher. "This discovery completely changed the thinking of scientists about unusual arrangements of atoms within crystals and ultimately helped them to fabricate a wide range of new types of materials.”   Read the NIST release

The American Jobs Act: Pathways Back to Work for Americans Looking for Jobs

American Jobs Act logo

President Obama continues to call upon Congress to pass the American Jobs Act. He has explained how his proposals will benefit the unemployed and put money back in Americans' pockets. One proposal includes Pathways Back to Work for Americans Looking for Jobs. This section of the president’s plan would help out-of-work Americans and their families by extending unemployment insurance to prevent six million Americans looking for work from losing their benefits, while at the same time reforming the system to help support programs that build real skills, connect to real jobs, and help the long-term unemployed. The president’s plan is targeted to address long-term unemployment in an aggressive, multi-pronged way, drawing from ideas about what is working from around the country and from both parties. 

Key elements of his proposal are:

  • The most innovative reform to the unemployment insurance program in 40 years: As part of an extension of unemployment insurance to prevent five million Americans looking for work from losing their benefits, the president’s plan includes innovative work-based reforms to prevent layoffs and give states greater flexibility to use Unemployment Insurance (UI) funds to best support job-seekers and connect them to work.
  • A $4,000 tax credit to employers for hiring long-term unemployed workers.
  • Prohibiting employers from discriminating against unemployed workers when hiring.
  • Expanding job opportunities for low-income youth and adults by investing in promising and proven strategies and programs like summer jobs and sector-based training programs.

White House fact sheet

So What's in the Trade Agreements with Colombia, Panama and Korea?

Yesterday, President Obama sent three trade agreements to Congress for approval. While each of the trade agreements were negotiated differently, they all share one common goal - to increase opportunities for U.S. businesses, farmers, and workers through improved access for their products and services in foreign markets. Each supports President Obama’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015.

All Trade Promotion Agreements have one thing in common. They reduce barriers to U.S. exports, and protect U.S. interests and enhance the rule of law in the partner country. The reduction of trade barriers and the creation of a more stable and transparent trading and investment environment make it easier and cheaper for U.S. companies to export their products and services to trading partner markets.This results in jobs here in America.

The most common question about these agreements is, "What exactly is in them?" Below the fold are some of the key specifics for each agreement.

New Friendships and New Opportunities to Do Business in Brazil

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco J. Sánchez inaugurating the U.S. Pavilion at the Offshore Technologies Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Guest blog post by Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary for International Trade, International Trade Administration

Today I had the honor of inaugurating the U.S. Pavilion at the Offshore Technologies Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The pavilion is giving more than 80 U.S. firms the opportunity to exhibit their products and services to potential buyers in Brazil and elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere.  The pavilion also supports a Department of Commerce–certified trade mission that was organized by the state of Louisiana along with that state’s Committee of 100 for Economic Development.

Why Brazil? There are a lot of reasons for U.S. companies to look for business here, especially in the energy sector. Economically, Brazil is on the rise. It is the world’s seventh largest economy and in 2010 posted a real GDP growth rate of 7.5 percent. This strong growth is sure to continue in the long-term. One factor in that growth will be Brazil’s oil and gas sector, buoyed by the recent discovery of offshore oil reserves in the Santos Basin. The discovery of these reserves is good news for the United States—both for the potential market it represents for U.S. sellers of energy products, technologies, and services as well as for the likelihood that that it will make Brazil a stable and secure source of energy for the United States in the future.

Obama Administration Jobs & Innovation Accelerator Competition Boosts New York’s Renewable Energy Cluster

Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez at the State University of New York Orange campus in Newburgh, New York celebrating the award of $1.95 million in federal Jobs & Innovation Accelerator Challenge funding.

Guest blog post by John Fernandez, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

I was pleased to join U.S. Congressman Maurice Hinchey today at the beautiful State University of New York Orange (SUNY Orange) campus in Newburgh, New York to celebrate the award of $1.95 million in federal Jobs & Innovation Accelerator Challenge funding to catalyze the growth of the Hudson Valley region’s alternative energy cluster.

The federal investments will help to establish the New York Renewable Energy Cluster (NYREC) by allowing The Solar Energy Consortium (TSEC) to expand its industry-led clean energy manufacturing cluster into Orange County through a partnership with Orange County Community College and Gateway to Entrepreneurial Tomorrows (GET).

The Jobs & Innovation Accelerator Challenge (JIAC) is just one example of how the Obama administration is collaborating to ensure a smarter use of existing federal resources to foster regional innovation in support of sustainable economic prosperity. 

Supporting bottom-up regional strategies through inter-agency collaboration is not only smart government, but the type of support regional economies need to grow and prosper.  It’s not about new programs, it’s about better programs.  It’s not about new money, but smart money.