PORTSMOUTH, RI – Attention shoppers: Your U.S. Senators are in aisle 1, discussing economic development and job growth.
Today, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse met with local business leaders and workers at the family-owned Clements’ Marketplace in Portsmouth to discuss the latest efforts to help boost the economy and provide tax cuts for workers and businesses.
The Senators have been pressing Congress to take immediate, concrete steps to help spur economic growth right now, including: passing a payroll tax cut, extending unemployment insurance, and investing in key infrastructure upgrades.
Congress is currently debating extending and expanding the soon-to-expire payroll tax cut. Reed and Whitehouse back a plan that would put an additional $1,600 into the take-home pay of the average Rhode Island family in 2012 and cut the payroll tax in half for 98% of U.S. businesses.
According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, extending and expanding the payroll tax cut could pump $700 million into Rhode Island’s economy in 2012.
Reed has also authored key legislation, which is cosponsored by Senator Whitehouse, to provide relief to local businesses, struggling families, and states by extending federal jobless benefits through 2012. Extending unemployment insurance helps preserve and spur demand for local businesses by helping people pay their bills while they look for a new job. Reed’s plan would pump an additional $188 million into Rhode Island’s economy and also prevent states and employers from facing automatic tax increases that are otherwise set to be assessed as soon as January 31, 2012.
If Congress fails to extend unemployment benefits or if benefits lapse for as little as a month, U.S. Department of Labor statistics indicate that nearly 10,000 Rhode Islanders and 2 million Americans nationwide could fall through the safety-net and lose benefits.
During the event, Tracy Anthony, co-owner and General Manager of Clements’ Marketplace, which has been a family run business since 1980, gave the Senators a tour of the market and discussed some of the challenges facing small businesses in the current economy.
“The additional take-home pay will definitely benefit Clements’ employees. If Senator Reed’s legislation goes through, it would be a big benefit for employees and businesses throughout the region,” said Tracy Anthony, co-owner and General Manager of Clements’ Marketplace.
“Rhode Islanders need jobs and Congressional Republicans need to join us to do more to help jumpstart the economy and encourage businesses to hire. In order to boost the economy and help local businesses create jobs, Congress must renew unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cut. I hope we can get bipartisan support for these common sense solutions to help Rhode Islanders keep more of their hard earned money and help businesses grow,” said Reed.
“As I’ve traveled across the state, I have heard from countless Rhode Islanders who are trying hard to recover from the recession and are eager to get back to work,” said Whitehouse. “In this holiday season, Congress should not pile on their misfortunes by failing to extend unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cut, which are so helpful to families struggling to make ends meet.”
“We appreciate the efforts of Senators Reed and Whitehouse. This legislation combined not only gives consumers relief and provides them funds for everyday expenses but it adds to the overall RI economy which with a 10.4% unemployment rate needs help. Further, from a business perspective this adds some tax relief which gives employers some relief and allows them to invest in their companies – including new employees,” said Steve Arthurs, President & CEO of the Rhode Island Food Dealers Association.