Rescue Package Hostile to Small Business?

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*UPDATE: Congress on Friday, Oct. 3, passed a revised rescue plan that indeed included the language that the American Small Business League opposed.

The American Small Business League, a nonprofit organization that represents small businesses across the nation (100,000 by its own count), today expressed fears that the revised $700 billion financial rescue package being considered in Congress this week could allow the federal government "to completely ignore the federal government's small business contracting goals," according to a statement from the group. The latest version of the Senate bill, which is expected to be quite similar to the one defeated in the House of Representatives save for stronger homeowner protections, could contain language, as did the doomed bill, that would waive provisions of federal acquisition law pertaining to small businesses. "It's just a typical Bush Administration move where they'll put something in a bill that doesn't need to be there just to give themselves more power," says league president and founder Lloyd Chapman.

Chapman says such a loophole would allow the Secretary of the Treasury to ignore federal rules that direct billions of dollars in government contracts to women-, minority- and veteran-owned small businesses. "This allows the Bush Administration complete leeway to abolish federal contract laws that affect small businesses," he says.

Entrepreneur is seeking a response from the federal Small Business Administration.

As things stand, Chapman points out that the federal government has already diverted federal small business contracts to major corporations, some of them based overseas. A Department of the Interior Inspector General report (PDF) from July states that federal small business contracts have gone to the likes of Home Depot, John Deere and Starwood Hotels. "Fortune 500 firms are getting billions of dollars a year in federal small business contracts," Chapman says.

"Let's put a provision in the rescue package that says they can no longer do that.

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