NRF: Financial Rescue Bill to Protect Main Street Jobs

Washington, D.C. The National Retail Federation (NRF) applauded the House of Representatives vote to pass a financial bailout plan on Friday that it said could help protect jobs, in addition to stabilizing Wall Street and credit markets.

“Today the House has voted for a plan that will maintain the ability of American consumers and businesses to obtain the credit needed to keep our economic engine running and to pave the road to economic recovery,” NRF senior VP for Government Relations Steve Pfister said. “Retailers have worked diligently over the past several days to make sure members of the House and Senate fully understood the profound impact the lack of functioning credit markets would have on businesses and consumers across the nation.”

In addition to establishing a system to restore stability to the nation’s financial markets, the legislation approved by the House includes two significant and longstanding retail priorities that were added to the bill earlier this week by the Senate, the NRF said.

The first is a provision that would renew a depreciation rule that expired at the end of 2007 that allowed retailers who lease their stores to write off remodeling expenses over 15 years rather than the previous 39 years. The rule would be extended through the end of 2009, and also expanded to include owned stores for the first time in response to NRF’s arguments that it was unfair to put retailers who own their stores—many of them small or rural merchants—at a disadvantage.

The NRF said remodeling is particularly important in the current economic climate as retailers try to revitalize failing stores, but having to depreciate the costs over 39 years rather than 15 makes it more difficult to know that the investment will pay off.

The other is a measure strongly backed by NRF that would require health plans to provide the same level of coverage for mental illnesses as physical illnesses. The bipartisan compromise said coverage for mental health can be no more restrictive than for other coverage, including co-pays, deductions and out-of-pocket expenses. NRF believes mental-health parity is important to the economy because of the productivity losses that occur when any illness—physical or mental—is left untreated.

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