U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd unveiled his plan to jumpstart the economy Monday, but he also may be hoping it jumpstarts his re-election campaign as well.
At the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology Inc. in East Hartford, Dodd said his plan will use unspent TARP funds to create a temporary Small Business Lending Facility, establish clean energy business zones, offer payroll tax relief, and other business-based investments.
Dodd estimates there’s about $100 billion to $125 billion in unspent or repaid TARP funds to lend directly to small businesses at low interest rates. TARP is the program created in 2008 by the government to purchase assets and equity from financial institutions in an effort to correct the subprime mortgage crisis.
“I hear it every single day about businesses not being able to get the capital they need from local lending institutions,” Dodd said. “Rather than trying to jawbone these institutions, which has not proved successful, why not set up our lending facility which can provide those micro-loans, small business loans, to get people on their feet.”
And getting the economy moving is at the top of Dodd’s agenda.
“There’s nothing more important that getting our economy moving again,” Dodd said. “There’s no better social program than a good paying job in the private sector.”
Giovanni Tomasi, who is the CEO of RSL Fiber Systems LLC, just one of the many companies located inside the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology liked Dodd’s plan to offer payroll tax relief. But he won’t be voting for him in Nov. 2010.
Tomasi, who endorsed Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele last week in Cromwell, said he supports former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, one of Dodd’s three Republican challengers.
“No economy is stimulated by raising taxes,” Tomasi said. He said he would like to hear more about how the state and federal governments are going to cut taxes, so he can hire more people.
Dodd’s own job in the public sector may be at risk if his poll numbers continue to drop.
The last Quinnipiac University poll showed Simmons beating Dodd by 11 points.
When asked by a reporter if he has been asked by Democratic Party insiders to step aside to let someone who can win the seat enter the race, Dodd said nobody within the party has asked him to step aside.
“Who would of thought a year ago we’d be in the situation we are in today,” Dodd said. “I promise I’ve been around long enough to know that things week-to-week and month-to-month change dramatically.”
“Ultimately elections turn out to be choices people make,” Dodd said.
Dodd flew into Connecticut Monday morning and returned to Washington D.C. immediately after the East Hartford press conference for more votes on the Senate health care bill.