CHATTANOOGA TIMES FREE PRESS – Blackburn, Fleischmann: We must prioritize small businesses and encourage Americans to get back to work

By Marsha Blackburn and Chuck Fleischmann

As we reopen the economy in our state and across the country, we recognize the growing need for aid and resources among families, workers and small businesses across Tennessee.

Under the CARES Act, the state of Tennessee has received about $5 billion, and the state directly controls about $2.6 billion. And still, too many Tennesseans find themselves out of work in the wake of the Wuhan virus. In the last week alone, there were more than 37,000 Tennesseans who filed for unemployment insurance benefits.

At a time when Congress should come together to help the American people, Democrats are far more interested in playing politics. Just like they have in previous packages, they are pushing to include their radical socialist policies — like the Green New Deal and Medicare-for-All — which would add trillions of unnecessary dollars to our national debt. They seek to use the coronavirus as a reason to implement their radical socialist policies. Now, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and Washington liberals want to give more bailout money to mismanaged states and local governments that have been recklessly spending taxpayer dollars. We cannot allow that to happen.

Instead, Congress should focus on getting the American people back to work. The Tennessee Department of Labor announced employees who refuse to return to work once their company reopens could be under penalty of losing their unemployment benefits if they do not meet the specific qualifications to remain unemployed under the CARES Act. We must encourage Americans to return to work, and we believe that we have a duty in Congress to do our part.

In Tennessee, small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and we know that many are hurting. Currently, under the Paycheck Protection Program, more than $9.25 billion has been allotted to more than 80,000 small businesses across the state, as well as to those who are self-employed. But more must be done to make sure they have the resources they need to thrive again. This includes ensuring small businesses have access to capital so they can adequately grow in a competitive market and encouraging all Americans to return to work so the PPP loan can be turned into grants.

Additionally, we should provide liability protection for health care facilities, manufacturers and other businesses so that they can get back to work as soon as possible under the standard care guidelines, without having to worry about a lawsuit from their patients, employers or customers.

As we seek to aid and protect struggling businesses, we are committed to implementing both capital gains tax and payroll tax relief. These reductions would provide incentives for the renewal of economic growth while encouraging a more competitive and broader investment market for our small businesses to thrive without the burden of heavy taxes.

In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to support and work alongside Gov. Bill Lee and all of Tennessee’s local officials as we prioritize providing aid and resources to struggling families, workers, and businesses in Tennessee. Businesses all across Tennessee have thrived because of our commitment to limited government, which includes no state income tax, and with all Tennesseans coming together, our small businesses will prosper once again.

Republican Marsha Blackburn represents Tennessee in the U.S. Senate.

Republican Chuck Fleischmann represents Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District.

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