Obama urges passage of small-business bill

"I'm calling on Congress to pass a small-business jobs package as soon as possible," President Barack Obama told audience members at an event honoring small-business owners. "This legislation should ensure that credit-worthy small businesses owners can get the capital they need to expand and create jobs. It should include needed tax relief, like our proposal to completely eliminate capital gains taxes for those making key long-term investments in small businesses."

Obama was addressing the start of National Small Business Week in the White House Rose Garden.

"This shouldn’t be a partisan issue," he said. "This is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue. This should not be an issue of big government versus small government.  This is an issue that involves putting the government on the side of the small business owners who create most of the jobs in this country."

The president first proposed the $30 billion lending fund in his State of the Union address, and his administration sent legislation to Capitol Hill earlier this month.

The House has already passed a small-business bill that zeroes out capital gains taxes for smaller C corporations. Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has indicated he too would like to move a similar measure through his chamber that would also expand loan opportunities to smaller companies.

However, advancing a small-business package through the Senate has been complicated. Lawmakers there want some assurance that an agreement on the estate tax is within reach before moving forward on the small-business bill. 

An apparent deal on the estate tax vanished last week as senators failed to reach a compromise on the issue. Another deal does not appear to be in sight, according to senators close to the matter. 

To make good on Obama's wish to move a small-business package sooner rather than later, the bill and the estate tax issue might have to be de-linked.

-- This post was updated at 11:46 p.m.