Obama pushes for passage of small-business incentives

By Lori Montgomery, Ariana Eunjung Cha and Anne E. Kornblut
Friday, September 10, 2010; 12:55 PM

President Obama on Friday named university professor Austan Goolsbee to head the Council of Economic Advisers and urged quick passage by Congress of a package of small-business incentives to help create jobs and revive a still-lagging economy.

In remarks at a wide-ranging news conference, Obama also repeated his strong opposition to a Florida pastor's now-suspended plan to burn Korans and said he has urged Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to extend a partial freeze on construction of Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Obama again blamed Republicans for blocking his economic platform for what he calls partisan reasons.

"The American people didn't send us here to think about our jobs - they sent us here to think about theirs," the president said.

"Next week, we can end a month-long standoff on a small-business jobs bill that's been held up in the Senate by a partisan minority," he said.

The package of tax breaks and other incentives includes a new loan fund that would encourage community banks to provide up to $30 billion to small businesses, improving access to credit.

"I hope we can now move forward to get small-business owners the relief they need," Obama said, citing the decision Thursday by Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) to support the bill.

"The proposals that we've put forward are ones that historically have garnered bipartisan support," the president said. "Everything we've done is designed to stimulate growth in the economy - that's our entire agenda."

The small-business package is part of Obama's proposal for $180 billion in fresh infrastructure spending and business tax breaks. It includes a plan for increasing and permanently extending research and development tax credits for businesses, rewarding companies that develop technologies domestically and preserve American jobs.

Its passage is considered extremely uncertain in the weeks before a midterm election expected to present a major challenge for Democrats.

The selection of Goolsbee, who is already one of three economists on the advisory panel, signaled confidence by Obama in his current economic team despite criticism by some members of Congress. House Republican leader John A. Boehner (Ohio) last month called for the firing of key economic officials because he said they have failed to revive the economy.

Obama has long looked to Goolsbee - a liberal economist whose academic research is focused on the new economy, government policy, taxes and technology - for guidance about economic issues. Goolsbee, 41, was an economic adviser to Obama's 2008 presidential campaign and 2004 U.S. Senate run.

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