Next: The Cover of Newsweek

Next: The Cover of Newsweek

Wall Street Reform Passes the U.S. Senate
First, thanks to everyone who contacted the targeted U.S. Senators asking them to support Wall Street reform. The Senate voted for cloture this morning and then voted 60-39 this afternoon to pass the bill.  Congratulations to all!  Now all that remains is for the President to sign the bill into law.

The SCSBCC Hits the National Media
On this issue, we seemed to have hit a chord with some national media. It all started this past Monday with the press conference on Wall Street Reform (see my last blog post, “Help Us Pass Wall Street Reform”).

I turned that press statement into an opinion editorial, and with the help of some national organizations (Americans United for Change, Business For Shared Prosperity and the American Forum), the piece below has run this week in the following: The Hill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Deming (NM) Headlight, NJ Today, Complinet, and The Augusta Free Press.

Advocating for small business is our focus at the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce. Let us know what you think of this op-ed using the comment form below, or contact us via email, on Facebook, via Twitter, or otherwise — supporting a dialogue within the small business community is an integral part of our mission.

Restoring balance between Wall Street and Main Street
by Frank Knapp Jr., CEO of the S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce

The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce and small business organizations and owners across this country want Wall Street Reform. But you wouldn’t know that from the attention the media gives to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is the mouthpiece for the big financial institutions that oppose reform.

The U.S. Chamber purports to represent small businesses. However, the reality is quite different. The July/August edition of the Washington Monthly features an eye-opening story on Tom Donohue, the CEO of the U.S. Chamber, who has a plaque on his desk that reads, “SHOW ME THE MONEY.” In 2008, a third of the Chamber’s revenues came from just 19 big companies.

When big oil, insurance and other companies are out of favor because of their greed, they turn to the U.S. Chamber to convince Congress and the public that the needed reforms are bad for business in general and small business in particular. This is exactly what is going on regarding Wall Street reform.

It’s clear that the U.S. Chamber does not represent the interests of small businesses that have suffered because of the irresponsible actions of the nation’s biggest banks. The greed of these financial institutions collapsed our economy and shut down loans and credit lines to our small businesses. We hear macro and micro stories every day about small businesses not getting access to the money they need. And every economist acknowledges that small businesses must hire the employees we need to lead us out of this recession just as they have in the last three economic recoveries.

But ironically, the only business sector that’s apparently hiring is Wall Street, as the New York Times explains in a recent piece. Greed is still alive and well on Wall Street. And we all know that without Wall Street reform, greed will bring our economy down again and tear apart our small businesses — if we can ever get them back on their feet.

Yet, the U.S. Chamber still wants Congress and the public to be afraid — very afraid. Wall Street reform will dry up loans to small business, the U.S. Chamber warns. That’s wrong. Their big bank donors are doing pretty well right now and they aren’t doing that by making small business loans and investing in our communities. They’re making money gambling on Wall Street.

The U.S. Chamber pretends to be a friend to Main Street worried that Sam the Butcher, Joe the Orthodontist and your local car dealer will be regulated out of business. That’s not in the Wall Street reform proposal.

What the butcher, orthodontist and car dealer want are customers – the customers who lost their jobs because of Wall Street greed.

Small business supports this reform because it will restore balance between Wall Street and Main Street through fair and commonsense policies and create a stable, transparent financial environment in which community banks and credit unions can once again feel secure in making loans.

We at the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce have been strong supporters of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to better protect consumers, which includes small businesses. We’re not afraid of good regulation that keeps our customers and us safe from financial predators.

We’re in favor of making banks be banks and not gambling houses. We have been strong supporters of the “Volcker Rule” to put the brakes on proprietary trading by banks — the practice that largely is responsible for bringing us to the brink of another Great Depression.

Congress should just say no to the U.S. Chamber. The financial health of our country and our small businesses depends on it.