Tipton pushes bank legislation during visit

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton listens to local business leaders discuss the economy and job growth at a small-business roundtable at the Durango Public Library. Tipton was in town to tout legislation aimed at increasing loans for small businesses and boosting job creation. Enlarge photo

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton listens to local business leaders discuss the economy and job growth at a small-business roundtable at the Durango Public Library. Tipton was in town to tout legislation aimed at increasing loans for small businesses and boosting job creation.

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton’s re-election campaign was in full swing Wednesday morning as he held a roundtable discussion about jobs with about 15 people at the Durango Public Library.

Throughout the discussion, Tipton, R-Cortez, who likely will face a tough challenge from Democrat Sal Pace come November, touted the “Capital Access on Main Street Act,” a bill he is co-sponsoring with Democratic congressman Ed Perlmutter and fellow Republican Mike Coffman, that would make it easier for community banks to loan money to small businesses.

“Dodd Frank requires that banks give loans to people who can demonstrate the ability to repay the loan, which sounds sensible and is sensible. But they are looking at a one-year window,” Tipton said. “CAMS would allow banks, particularly community banks, to look at someone’s ability to repay the loan over the course of seven years. We have to let banks be banks.”

Tipton was upbeat about the legislation prospects.

“Some people take it to the nth degree – where they want to do away with all regulation. But a stoplight is not a bad idea. We go back to, ‘is it working?’” he said. “I guarantee you that banks want to make money. So let the bank make the call. They do have the opportunity to say no and turn down a loan, so don’t make them say no because of regulation.”

Attendees sharing their impressions of the local job market painted a mostly grim picture.

One woman who identified herself as a mother with a background in human resources said that since coming to La Plata County from Los Angeles six years ago, she had “never seen such a lack of jobs but such a wealth of intelligence.”

“My kids aren’t going to stay here because they aren’t going to have any jobs,” she said. “It’s really heartbreaking to me that Fort Lewis (College) did away with computer science – it just makes it seem like we just can’t keep up with what’s going on around us.”

Mark Prouty, branch manager of SOS Staffing, a company that aims to supply companies with temporary workers, said: “There just aren’t any jobs. The worst thing is people – especially older people – coming off unemployment, when they’ve finished all their unemployment benefits and they’re at the end of the rope. They’re the ones who really scare me – they’re just desperate for work, but there are no jobs.”

Tipton said local businesses often were encumbered by onerous and inept regulations.

In a meeting with the editorial board of The Durango Herald on Wednesday afternoon, Tipton reiterated his opposition to government’s zealous intervention in business, said congress should lower and flatten tax rates, and decried the growth of the national debt.

“We cannot overstate the impact of the national debt. We’ve deluded ourselves that there’s a secret pot of money out there – no, it’s called debt,” said Tipton.

Though in March Tipton voted for the Republican Study Committee’s budget – which would have capped grants for Medicaid and children’s health plans to the states at 2012 levels – he said the vote was “more of a statement that we need to get the fiscal house in order.”

cmcallister@durangoherald.com