Domestic Taxes

Obama signs $42B small-business bill, blames GOP for delay

President Obama on Monday concluded a fierce fight with
congressional Republicans by signing into law a $42 billion small-business
bill.

The signing ceremony ended a months-long battle over
legislation Obama had hoped to move in July, before Congress entered a
monthlong recess. Instead, the bill was approved by the House last week and
will become law just more than a month before the crucial midterm elections.

Obama on Monday blamed Republicans for holding up the
package, saying they had “needlessly delayed this relief.”

At a signing ceremony in the White House East Room, where he
was surrounded by small-business owners and lawmakers, Obama said the passage
and signing of the bill is “a great victory for America’s entrepreneurs.”

While the president thanked Sens. George Voinovich (Ohio)
and George LeMieux (Fla.), the only two Republicans to support the bill, he
castigated the rest of the GOP for blocking the bill in the Senate for months.

“I regret that this was blocked for months by the Republican
minority,” Obama said. “And that needlessly delayed this relief.”

LeMieux and Voinovich, who are both retiring at the end of
the year, “bucked this partisanship that blocked this bill,” Obama said.

Obama also praised Democratic lawmakers, singling out Sens.
Dick Durbin (Ill.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.) and Carl Levin
(Mich.) and Reps. Al Green (Texas) and Melissa Bean (Ill.). All attended the
ceremony.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) used the occasion to blast Obama for not extending the Bush tax cuts across the board. Republicans insist that by letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire, Obama will be increasing taxes on small businesses and further retarding the economic recovery.

“If the President really wants to help small businesses, he should insist that Congress not leave town without cutting spending and stopping his tax hike to help create jobs — particularly small business jobs,” Boehner said. “By failing to act, the president is turning his back on American families and small businesses.”

The legislation includes $12 billion in tax breaks for small
businesses and a $30 billion fund to encourage community banks to make loans to
small businesses.

The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) lobbied
for the fund, which would provide incentives to banks with less than $10
billion in assets to make loans to small businesses.

Obama first proposed the fund in his State of the Union
address, but congressional lawmakers did not cast votes on the measure until
months later, after they and the administration rewrote the details of the
proposal.

Republicans criticized the fund as another taxpayer bailout
similar to the $700 billion bailout, officially known as the Troubled Asset
Relief Program (TARP). Republicans frequently called the small-business fund
“TARP II.”

The legislation is likely to be the last big piece of
legislation aimed at accelerating the economy that Democrats pass before the
election.

In his remarks, Obama noted that he has cut taxes for small
businesses eight times since taking office, and he said the bill he signed
Monday contains eight more cuts.

Small businesses, he said, “have borne the biggest brunt of
this recession,” and they are critical to the economic recovery and the growth
of the middle class.

“They are the anchors of our Main Streets,” Obama said.
“They are part of the promise of America.”

Obama first proposed the $30 billion lending fund in
January, and the White House and congressional Democrats made the bill part of
a three-pronged strategy for the summer.

The House passed the legislation last week on a 237-187
vote, with 13 Democrats opposing the bill. Rep. Walter Jones (N.C.) was the
sole Republican to support the bill.

Bean said the legislation would provide credit to small
businesses in desperate need of loans.

“This bill addresses that need by providing up to $30
billion in discounted capital to community banks based on the amount of
small-business lending that they do, as well as $12 billion in small-business
tax breaks,” Bean said in a statement. “I was proud to personally witness the
president sign the bill into law.”

After the signing, Green praised Obama for his “hands-on”
work in getting the bill passed.

“This president’s persistence has made a difference,” Green
said.

Silla Brush contributed to this report.

Tags Al Green Boehner Carl Levin Dick Durbin John Boehner Maria Cantwell Mary Landrieu
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