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Obama Again Calls for Vote on Small Business Lending Bill

North Beacon Hill Small Businesses, photo: by dreaming_of_rivers via flickr (click to embiggen)

For the third time in as many weeks, the President made a public appeal to Republicans to stop blocking the small business lending bill, expected to get a vote when the Senate returns to session next month.

President Barack Obama says Congress should make passing a long-languishing aid package to small business its first order of business when it gets back from summer vacation.

He said in remarks in the Rose Garden Monday that he’ll also have other specific ideas on the nation’s teetering economy in the days and weeks ahead.

But he also said that action on the package of small business tax cuts and credit incentives is “one thing we know that we should do” as soon as possible. Republicans have been blocking the bill, calling it misguided. Obama said: “I ask Senate Republicans to drop the blockade.”

I don’t know what those “other specific ideas” are – sounds like Nixon’s “secret plan” to me – but the small business lending bill is an odd hill to die on for this or any President. While using the words “small business” and “jobs” in rapid succession can stand in for a public policy, I suppose, this bill is really weak tea. It’s not that there isn’t a legitimate problem in small business lending, particularly in lines of credit that allow cash-strapped businesses to make payroll. But it’s hardly the first-order problem of the moment, at least compared to increasing slack demand. Simply put, if businesses have no customers, they won’t take out loans to expand.

Republicans are indeed being massive idiots with their opposition to this modest measure, which they’ve predicated entirely on not getting the requisite amount of unrelated amendments to the bill. Either that, or they’re deliberately trying to sink the economy. But the bill is so tangential to actual economic growth that its presence or absence won’t have an outsized effect, though I suppose it’s better than nothing.

Small business seem to like the bill, and anecdotally they’ve stopped their expansion plans while they await the outcome of the vote in September. So I guess that’s reason enough to pass this. But when progressives wondered whether the President would announce a large jobs bill and dare the Republicans to stop it, the small business package, which Republicans co-wrote, wasn’t exactly what they had in mind.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Obama Again Calls for Vote on Small Business Lending Bill

For the third time in as many weeks, the President made a public appeal to Republicans to stop blocking the small business lending bill, expected to get a vote when the Senate returns to session next month.

President Barack Obama says Congress should make passing a long-languishing aid package to small business its first order of business when it gets back from summer vacation.

He said in remarks in the Rose Garden Monday that he’ll also have other specific ideas on the nation’s teetering economy in the days and weeks ahead.

But he also said that action on the package of small business tax cuts and credit incentives is “one thing we know that we should do” as soon as possible. Republicans have been blocking the bill, calling it misguided. Obama said: “I ask Senate Republicans to drop the blockade.”

I don’t know what those “other specific ideas” are – sounds like Nixon’s “secret plan” to me – but the small business lending bill is an odd hill to die on for this or any President. While using the words “small business” and “jobs” in rapid succession can stand in for a public policy, I suppose, this bill is really weak tea. It’s not that there isn’t a legitimate problem in small business lending, particularly in lines of credit that allow cash-strapped businesses to make payroll. But it’s hardly the first-order problem of the moment, at least compared to increasing slack demand. Simply put, if businesses have no customers, they won’t take out loans to expand.

Republicans are indeed being massive idiots with their opposition to this modest measure, which they’ve predicated entirely on not getting the requisite amount of unrelated amendments to the bill. Either that, or they’re deliberately trying to sink the economy. But the bill is so tangential to actual economic growth that its presence or absence won’t have an outsized effect, though I suppose it’s better than nothing.

Small business seem to like the bill, and anecdotally they’ve stopped their expansion plans while they await the outcome of the vote in September. So I guess that’s reason enough to pass this. But when progressives wondered whether the President would announce a large jobs bill and dare the Republicans to stop it, the small business package, which Republicans co-wrote, wasn’t exactly what they had in mind.

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David Dayen

David Dayen