President Obama Urges Senate Republicans to Drop their Blockade
President Obama gave a brief speech from the Rose Garden this morning about the economy. He restated his assertion that the economy is recovering but was taking longer than anybody wanted. He also offered assurances that his team was, “hard at work on additional measures,” and offered few details but pulled no punches in blasting Senate Republicans for their obstruction of relief for small business. The President urged GOP leaders, “to drop the blockade,” referring to their persistent filibuster of a small business aid bill that’s been stalled in the Senate since July.
The small business aid bill was last blocked from going to the Senate floor at the end of July. It includes $12 billion in tax relief, elimination of certain loan fees, and also creates a $30 billion fund to reopen lending to small businesses. The tax breaks are designed to stimulate growth, and include deductions for capital equipment investment and credits for new hires. The loan fund is designed to address the pending situation where large banks are sitting on cash and not lending to small business. The $30 billion will be used to allow community and regional banks with assets under $10 billion to fill the void.
Republicans in the Senate have spoken out against bill, likening it to the TARP, which they all supported, but which has since fallen into disrepute. They claim that the bill is just more Democrat spending, failing to acknowledge that it’s fully paid for. Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell admitted that the Republicans had already been given opportunity to amend the bill, but stated that, “three amendments is not enough.”
Democrats responded that Republicans had offered a border security provision that had nothing to do with small business, and that they would not allow a Republican maneuver to subvert the bill by adding a permanent extension to the Bush tax cuts. In a last minute development, Republicans had complained that the bill included $1.5 billion in aid to farmers, so Democrats removed the provision, but still failed to earn any Republican support.
In his speech today, President Obama stated that, “there's no reason to block [the bill] besides pure partisan politics.” Dean Baker, of the Center for Economic and Policy Research seems to be in agreement; speaking in July, he said of the standoff that, “The Democrats want to hand money out to small banks and win some support among traditionally Republican backers, while the Republicans don't want the Democrats to have any achievements to show when they campaign.”Continued on the next page