Obama: Republicans holding small businesses "hostage"

WASHINGTON Sat Jul 31, 2010 3:53pm EDT

President Barack Obama makes remarks on the Senate campaign finance reform vote in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington July 26, 2010. REUTERS/Jim Young

President Barack Obama makes remarks on the Senate campaign finance reform vote in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington July 26, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Young

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Saturday accused Republicans of holding American small businesses "hostage to politics" after Republican senators refused to back a $30 billion small-business lending package.

Senate Republicans blocked the package on Thursday, dealing a fresh blow to Obama's efforts to show Americans, in the midst of a tough election year, that his administration is focused on tackling stubbornly high unemployment.

With opinion polls showing eroding support for Obama's handling of the economy, Democrats fear voters will punish them for the 9.5 percent unemployment rate come November, when all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 37 of the 100 seats in the Senate will be in play in mid-term elections.

"I'm calling on the Republican leaders in the Senate to stop holding America's small businesses hostage to politics, and allow an up-or-down vote on this small business jobs bill," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.

"Understand, a majority of senators support the plan. It's just that the Republican leaders in the Senate won't even allow it to come up for a vote," he said.

Democratic leaders failed on Thursday to muster the 60 votes needed to advance the measure over Republican objections.

Republicans are upset that Democrats shut them out during discussions to amend the package, which they say is another example of Obama's overreach in government spending.

The economy is likely to be the main flashpoint in the November elections and the ballooning U.S. deficit is another point of contention between the two main political parties.

In an interview with CBS television, Obama challenged Republicans to lay out their ideas for tackling U.S. debt and deficit problems.

"Now the Republicans have said that this is their number one concern. I'm going to call them on their bluff," he said in the interview, according to excerpts released by the network.

"I want to see their ideas for how we're going to deal with these issues. I'm going to have a bunch of ideas," he said.

Obama also said the small business package was "as bipartisan a set of ideas as you can imagine." Senate majority leader Harry Reid is hopeful that a deal can still be reached that would allow the Senate to act on the bill next week.

But even if the Senate passes the bill, it would be too late to get it to Obama's desk before mid-September.

The House, which passed its version of the bill in June, is set to begin a six-week break on Friday. It will be unable to vote on the version passed by the Senate until then.

Obama's comments were at least the third time in a week that he had called on Republicans to back the bill.

The bill provides for a $30 billion fund to invest in community banks to bolster lending. It also would provide tax credits and a limited capital gains exemption.

Small businesses, which account for two-thirds of jobs created in the United States, have been hit hard by the credit crunch, making it difficult for them to expand.

(Additional reporting by Jeff Mason; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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Comments (11)
Mikeyh0 wrote:
The faucet of money is broken in the open position and Obama blames Republicans for wanting to staunch the flow. Taking taxes out of the private sector and increasing the deficit to return some of that money to certain parts of the economy is ridiculous on its face. Redistribution doesn’t work. Ask the former USSR or Venezuela. Never mind, you either understand economics or you don’t. But blaming Republicans because something that can NEVER work isn’t working is like blaming them because the sky is blue.

Jul 31, 2010 9:03am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Papa_Ray wrote:
Typical Reuters slant. NO mention of WHY the bill is being blocked. NO mention that even if bill is passed banks still won’t loan money to small businesses.

NO mention of the fact that small business are not going to even try and get a loan because they just do not trust the present government enough to put themselves out on more of a financial limb just to get it cut from beneath them by a government that seems to not know what or how to do anything other than pile up more debt, give money to special interests, politicians and large corporations. I could go on but nobody seems to care or understand.

The American public will soon understand but I fear it will be a little too late.

Papa Ray

Jul 31, 2010 9:25am EDT  --  Report as abuse
AlitoRAF wrote:
Unbelievable. Man acts like a two year old. We are in more trouble than you can imagine.

Jul 31, 2010 10:26am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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