Obama renews call for Congress to act quickly to help small business
By Michael A. Fletcher
President Obama said Saturday that Congress should move quickly to enact a series of proposals aimed at bolstering the ability of small businesses to create new jobs.
In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama said he is open to other ideas for supporting small business, but warned lawmakers not to oppose his proposals strictly for political reasons.
"My door is always open," he said. "But I urge members of both parties: Do not oppose good ideas just because it's good politics to do so. The proposals I've outlined are not Democratic or Republican; liberal or conservative. They are pro-business, they are pro-growth, and they are pro-job."
Obama has spelled out a list of ideas to support small business in recent weeks, as his administration has grown more urgent in its response to the nation's unemployment rate, which is currently 9.7 percent.
Obama has proposed using $30 billion in bank bailout money to create a new Small Business Lending Fund to provide capital to community banks to increase http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/02/AR2010020200542.html. He also has proposed a tax credit as an additional incentive for small businesses to hire new workers and raise wages. And he has called for expansion of several Small Business Administration programs.
Despite Obama's desire to move quickly, some of his proposals have been met with skepticism on Capitol Hill, where the Senate is expected to begin debate on small business initiatives next week. Many Republicans deride them as unnecessary spending, while even some Democrats are dubious about the potential efficacy of some of the ideas.
Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the House Committee on Small Business, questioned Obama's plan to expand the SBA Express program -- which provides operating capital for small business -- saying that it has an unacceptably high default rate.
Moreover, she said, the program would mainly serve to bolster big banks, which often provide the SBA-insured loans that go to small businesses.
"With loan defaults on the rise, we should not base our strategy on increasing the size of the least stable SBA lending program," Velasquez said.
She also criticized a proposal to make it easier for small businesses to refinance their properties through SBA, saying that the idea would not create jobs and may draw money from programs that do create jobs.
Michael A. Fletcher
February 6, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , Economy
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