Obama urges small-business boosts

President Barack Obama on Saturday urged Congress to quickly pass a series of new proposals to boost small businesses.

"Do not oppose good ideas just because it’s good politics to do so," Obama said in the weekly radio address. "The proposals I’ve outlined are not Democratic or Republican; liberal or conservative."

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The White House recently outlined a series of economic policies to encourage community banks to lend money to small businesses and to boost hiring through tax credits. The policies are part of a renewed effort to boost an economy that continues to suffer under high unemployment and the continued loss of jobs.

The government reported on Friday that the unemployment rate in January dropped from 10 percent to 9.7 percent, even as the economy lost 20,000 jobs.

The Senate is planning to take up a jobs package next week that will include spending and tax provisions. Senate Democrats want to pass the package before the Presidents Day recess, but they need GOP support now that Republicans hold 41 seats in the upper chamber.

The administration is urging Congress to shift $30 billion from the $700 billion financial bailout program into a new "Small Business Lending Fund". The fund would encourage banks with $10 billion or less in assets to loan money to small businesses.


The new lending fund has run into criticism from Republicans who say it is an effort to shuffle bailout funds that should go toward reducing the deficit instead of new programs.

Obama also said fees should be waived and guarantees increased for Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. Lawamkers should also consider expanding the size of SBA-backed loans for small businesses.