Janesville51.3°

Ryan targets entrepreneurs

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Mike DuPre'
January 26, 2008
— Cynthia McCullough runs a small business on Main Street.

The first person to bring upscale coffee to downtown Janesville, McCullough is the kind of entrepreneur that Rep. Paul Ryan wants to help.


Ryan’s Janesville office is across the street from McCullough’s resurrected business, a restaurant called 29 South. She recently opened the restaurant in what two years ago was her coffee shop, CL Java.


Ryan, a Janesville native and senior Republican on the House Budget Committee, has been trying for years to get the federal government to allow business owners to write off—depreciate—more quickly their business investments and thus lower their taxes.


The U.S. economy has dipped, perhaps sliding into recession, and so Congress and the White House have agreed in principle on an economic stimulus package.


The budget committee is central to writing the legislation, part of which will be Ryan’s accelerated depreciation proposal.


He wants business owners to be able to immediately write off 50 percent of their business expenses, rather than depreciate the investments in building, equipment and other items at several rates over periods of years.


“I would assume that would be good for me,” McCullough said.


If Ryan’s proposal means she keeps more cash in her register, McCullough said, she probably would spend more on advertising, stay open longer and expand her menu.


And she would hire more people to help her do so.


Putting more people to work is exactly what Ryan thinks his proposal will do.


The rebates proposed in the stimulus plan—$600 for individuals, $1,200 for couples—will increase consumer buying temporarily but won’t create jobs over the long term, Ryan said.


“Accelerated depreciation is the only job-creating proposal in the package,” he said.


It’s unfortunate, the congressman said, that the economy already must be hurting before Washington considers faster depreciation.


“It’s always late,” Ryan said. “Why don’t we do these things in the first place to try to maximize our economic potential?


“It’s clear we’re headed for an economic downturn. It’s not clear that we will have a recession,” he said. “There’s more Congress could have done to make the economy grow faster and be more resilient than where we find ourselves now.”


The stimulus package—which still could be changed by the Senate—will not prevent the economy from dipping, Ryan said.


“Congress cannot micromanage the U.S. economy,” he said. “In the short term, there’s no dial in Washington we can turn to turn the economy around on a dime … but (stimulus) could make it a shallower and shorter downturn.”



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