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Blog Category: Economy

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: 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.

Building a 21st Century Patent and Trademark Office

Director Kappos takes questions while at the Brookings Institute

Today, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos addressed the Brookings Institution’s Center for Technology Innovation, outlining how comprehensive patent reform, signed into law by President Obama two weeks ago today, impacts American innovation, American jobs and American leadership. Representing the most significant overhaul of the U.S. patent system in a generation, the America Invents Act (AIA) transforms how patents are obtained, challenged, and valued in acquisition, licensing, and litigation settlement discussions.

In the centuries since the first patent examiner—Thomas Jefferson—reviewed and granted the first U.S. patent, our nation has observed sweeping revolutions in the pace of innovation—but with no comprehensive legislative adjustment in patent policy.

By building out the world’s only 21st century Patent and Trademark Office, equipped to manage the demands of a globalized economy, this new law enables a better resourced USPTO to grant intellectual property rights with greater speed, greater quality, greater clarity and greater enforceability. It also advances the President’s overall strategy of deploying American innovation to build businesses and build jobs.

Acting Secretary Blank Encourages Innovation in Green Energy Technologies

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank delivered the keynote address at a green energy conference today hosted by Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Brookings Institution and the Clean Energy Group at USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. The conference was held for policy makers from federal, state, and foreign governments, and industry and academia. Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos, EDA Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy also participated.

In her remarks, Blank focused on issues facing clean energy development today and ways to overcome obstacles through more strategic state and federal policy. Blank highlighted efforts by Obama administration initiatives aimed at creating jobs, increasing exports and securing America’s energy future. Topics at the forum included technology transfer and commercialization, public investment, procurement and policy, federal and state economic support for clean energy industries, and international collaboration on clean energy technologies.  Remarks

Acting Secretary Blank and USPTO Director Kappos Join President Obama at the America Invents Act Signing Ceremony

President Barack Obama signs the America Invents Act into law at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia, Sept. 16, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

At a ceremony at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia, President Obama today signed the America Invents Act into law, representing historic patent reform legislation that will help American entrepreneurs and businesses bring their inventions to market sooner, creating new businesses and new jobs. Passed with the president’s consistent leadership and strong bipartisan support, the America Invents Act represents the most significant reform of the Patent Act since 1952, and will help American companies and inventors who have suffered costly delays and unnecessary litigation focus on innovation and job creation.

Innovation is the primary source of economic growth, job creation,
and U.S. competitiveness in today’s global economy. An efficiently operating intellectual property system is critical to our ability to spur innovation and bring new services and products to the marketplace faster. For investors, patents are strong indicators of market potential for new companies; and for inventors, they are often vital to attracting investment. 

"Our success in creating the conditions that spur new ideas, and our commitment to investing in the education, research and development priorities that help shape our country’s innovation infrastructure, will determine the opportunities of future generations,” Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank said. “These issues will determine whether or not America is home to the industries that will fuel economic growth–and the jobs that come with it - in the 21st century.”

Aneesh Chopra, on the White House Blog, said, "By transitioning to a simpler, more objective, and more inventor-friendly system of issuing patents, the new Act helps ensure that independent inventors and small entities have greater clarity and certainty over their property rights and will be able to navigate the patent system on a more equitable footing with large enterprises."

The Act also establishes a new in-house review process for challenging patents—a process that is faster and significantly cheaper than litigation, which too often stymies technological growth. By resolving disputes about patent rights earlier, more efficiently, and at lower cost, we can  add greater certainty to—and cultivate greater confidence it—the American patent system."

United States Patent and Trademark Office Director David Kappos and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra hosted an Open for Questions event on WhiteHouse.gov at 5:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, September 16th. If you missed it, you can watch the entire Q&A session on the White House blog.

President Obama’s American Jobs Act Is a Win for Workers and Employers

Image of President Obama and AJA logo

Last night President Obama explained his proposal for putting creating jobs now and putting Americans back to work before Congress. In addition to giving the economy a shot in the arm with more money in the pockets of working Americans, his proposed American Jobs Act has several new ideas, backed by both Democrats AND Republicans, which are a win for businesses and employers. The President is focused on rebuilding the economy the American way, through the ingenuity and hard work of the American people.

Businesses and employers stand to win under the President’s American Jobs Act in various ways.

It offers tax relief:

  • A payroll tax cut for 98 percent of small businesses
  • A complete payroll tax holiday for added workers or increased wages
  • Extending 100 percent capital expensing into 2012
  • Reforms and regulatory reductions to help entrepreneurs and small businesses access capital

Financial rewards for hiring workers:

  • A tax credit from $5,600-$9,600 for hiring of unemployed veterans
  • New contracts for modernizing public schools, homes and businesses
  • A bipartisan-supported National Infrastructure Bank which provides capital and contracts to upgrade and build vital roads, rails and airports.
  • A $4,000 tax credit for hiring long-term unemployed workers
  • Allowing workers to earn unemployment insurance if they choose to work share over layoffs.

Learn more about the benefits of the American Jobs Act.

Chatting with Citizens in Cincinnati about President Obama’s Job Plan

Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank enjoys Graeter's Ice Cream while on a tour with CEO Rich Graeter. Also enjoying the ice cream is Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory.

Guest blog post by Dr. Rebecca Blank, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

First thing this morning, I’ll be on a plane to Cincinnati to join Mayor Mark Mallory for a visit to Graeter’s Ice Cream, a locally and family owned ice cream company founded in 1870. At Graeter’s, I'll explain the details of President Obama’s American Jobs Act, specifically how it will spur economic growth and accelerate job creation. 

After my tour (and hopefully a sample or two of that ice cream), I will host a White House Business Council roundtable discussion with local business leaders to discuss the jobs plan in further detail, challenges facing America’s business community, ways to improve U.S. economic competitiveness and the help that is available to businesses from agencies across the federal government. 

Before the end of the day, I’ll be sitting down with the editorial board of the Cincinnati Enquirer to answer all their questions about President Obama’s jobs plan.

The American Jobs Act is a set of ideas that have been supported by both Democrats AND Republicans that needs to be passed right away. This plan will put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of working Americans. As the folks in Cincinnati will attest, Americans are working hard each and every day to meet their responsibilities. The only question now is whether Washington will meet its responsibilities. The time for obstruction and gridlock is over. Congress needs to pass the American Jobs Act.

UPDATE: Read Acting Secretary Blank's remarks

MBDA Opens New Business Center in Cleveland

Director Hinson and officials shown with presentation check

Cleveland is the home of the U.S. Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency’s (MBDA) newest business center. On Thursday, Sept. 1, more than 250 people turned out for the Cleveland MBDA Business Center’s grand opening and press conference held at the Wyndham Hotel.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, (D-Ohio) delivered remarks; and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson presented a proclamation recognizing the center’s role in the city.

MBDA National Director David Hinson delivered remarks to the crowd, challenging business owners to take advantage of the new opportunities that will be available through the business center in creating access to capital, contracts and markets.

The $1,125,000 five-year federal grant check was presented to center operator Andrew Jackson, Senior V. P. and Executive Director of the Commission on Economic Inclusion, Greater Cleveland Partnership.

Following the open house and tour of the center, a select group of minority business owners and key economic development stakeholders were invited to a White House Business Roundtable, where business owners shared in a candid conversation about their issues and concerns.

Director Hinson challenged business owners to consider what their companies specifically need to create “one more job.”  

MBDA Business Centers assist minority entrepreneurs with strategic business consulting services. Centers work directly with minority business owners and managers at the local level and provide enhanced assistance through MBDA’s national strategic partners, both within the federal government and the private sector.