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Originally published Sunday, November 8, 2009 at 4:00 PM

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Sen. Cantwell pitches in on bill to help Main Street

The Seattle Times supports Senate Bill 823, the Net Operating Loss Carryback Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Maria Cantwell, which will help job-creating businesses on the nation's Main Streets.

SEN. Maria Cantwell deserves thanks for pushing hard on a bill that could do more for job-creating and job-preserving businesses on Main Street than all the bailouts of the Wall Street investment banks.

The bill (SB 823), which has just been passed by both houses of Congress, goes by the unjazzy name of the Net Operating Loss Carryback Act. It increases the corporate income tax refunds for businesses that were making money during the late boom but now operate at a loss.

It does this by increasing the amount of tax payments a business can get back. The general rule has been that a business losing money can claw back taxes it paid in the two previous years. The new law changes this to four years plus half of a fifth for losses incurred in 2009. A similar change was already done for business losses incurred in 2008.

This will cost the Treasury some money, and there will be people who say the government has offered stimulus enough.

Probably it would have been enough had it been spent on things directly related to business revival, but it wasn't. It was spent on things that were popular — and the economic corner has not been turned.

The national unemployment rate is still rising. It has just gone double-digit for the first time in 26 years, and is at 10.2 percent.

This is not recovery.

The new law does not have taxpayers underwrite credit default swaps or any of the other alchemic creations of Wall Street investment banks. It is not more aid and comfort for the nationalized and quasi-nationalized corporate giants; it specifically exempts Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and any company in which the Treasury has recently become an owner.

This law is for the businesses that suffer in the recession, not the ones that caused it. It is one of the few things Congress has done that reaches directly to Main Street America. It is a big deal to many local businesses, including businesses here.

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