The Washington Post

Obama proposes boosts for small businesses

President Obama offered Congress a $48 billion legislative package Tuesday to accelerate small-business growth that includes ideas previously offered by Republican lawmakers, an effort to garner bipartisan support in an election year.

Obama’s proposals, which build on the Startup America initiative the administration launched last year, include eliminating taxes on capital gains from investments in small businesses, providing a 10 percent tax credit for companies that create jobs or increase wages this year and ending country-specific immigration caps in order to attract highly skilled workers.

In his State of the Union address last week, Obama touted small businesses as a core element of his pledge to create an economy that strengthens the middle class. Yet administration officials said the number of new businesses that have been launched annually has fallen by 23 percent in recent years.

Also this month, Obama asked Congress to give him the authority to restructure government agencies to streamline regulatory requirements for small busi­nesses, and he elevated the director of the Small Business Administration to Cabinet level to emphasize his commitment.

“Most new jobs are created in start-ups and small businesses. So let’s pass an agenda that helps them succeed,” Obama said during the State of the Union speech. “Tear down regulations that prevent aspiring entrepreneurs from getting the financing to grow. Expand tax relief to small businesses that are raising wages and creating good jobs. Both parties agree on these ideas. So put them in a bill, and get it on my desk this year.”

House Republicans responded by pointing out that their chamber already had approved bills containing elements of Obama’s plan — such as increasing the limit on “mini public offerings” for start-ups from $5 million to $50 million and allowing companies to “crowdfund” by raising money from many individuals through regulated online platforms — only to have the bills languish in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The White House acknowledged that Republicans have supported similar ideas and cast the president’s legislation as a vehicle to bring the parties together in an effort to craft a bill on which both can agree. Most of the president’s economic agenda has been blocked on Capitol Hill, with the GOP objecting to expensive new spending proposals during a time of soaring deficits.

“Many of the ideas endorsed by the president today have already been put forward — and acted on — by House Republicans,” said Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). “The proposals . . . could already be law if the United States Senate would simply act.”

The administration stressed that the cost of the legislative package, which will be included in Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget, could be offset by the elimination of tax loopholes and write-offs that the administration also will call for in its spending request, to be unveiled Feb. 13.

“It’s not a contest of who can claim credit,” said Gene Sperling, the director of the National Economic Council, “but rather whether we can come together in a bipartisan way to accelerate job growth and hiring.”

David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
The Democrats debate Thursday. Get caught up on the race.
What to expect tonight
Tonight's debate is likely to focus on the concerns of African American and Latino voters. Clinton has focused in recent days on issues like gun control, criminal-sentencing reform, and the state of drinking water in Flint, Mich. Sanders has been aggressively moving to appeal to the same voters, combining his core message about economic unfairness with his own calls to reform the criminal-justice system.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the polls as he faces rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz heading into the S.C. GOP primary on Feb. 20.
Fact Checker
Trump’s claim that his border wall would cost $8 billion
The billionaire's claim is highly dubious. Based on the costs of the Israeli security barrier (which is mostly fence) and the cost of the relatively simple fence already along the U.S.-Mexico border, an $8 billion price tag is simply not credible.
Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.