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Senate Passes Small Business Bill After Voting Down Top Priority of Obama Jobs Plan

The Senate today passed their small business jobs bill, passing cloture again on the final bill with the same 61 votes as before, all the Democrats plus George Voinovich and George LeMieux. The bill would create a $30 billion dollar small business lending fund for community banks to dole out, and would add a series of tax breaks for small business, including a write-off for all capital gains. Small Business Administration loan programs would also get an increase.

But the AP story adds this footnote in the last paragraph:

Before passing the measure, Democrats rejected a GOP bid to permanently extend the research and development tax credit. Adoption of the amendment would have meant delays for the underlying small business jobs bill.

Huh? Wasn’t the R&D tax credit one plank of the Obama jobs program announced to great fanfare last week? Why wouldn’t Democrats take the opportunity to pass this, if they believe it would provide certainty and create jobs?

Let’s take a close look. The R&D credit was an amendment from Orrin Hatch. David Waldman explained this morning, these amendments would have only passed through a suspension of the rules on the bill, requiring 67 votes. It was mainly a time-waster in the bill. In addition, Hatch added no offset to the extension, which would have run the bill afoul of the paygo rule.

But the roll call on the vote is instructive. Every single Republican, along with a handful of Democrats, voted to permanently extend the R&D tax credit. So, as a standalone bill there should be no problem, right? Somehow I think the answer is no, once the offsets are put into place.

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David Dayen

David Dayen