- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Seeking to slice through partisan divisions on Capitol Hill, President Obama on Tuesday urged Congress to swiftly take up a bipartisan bill aimed at cutting taxes for small businesses and encouraging new startups in an effort to spur new jobs.

Mr. Obama sent a measure to Congress that draws on various proposals from Democrats and Republicans in an effort to act on an initiative the White House announced last year to free up capital to reward small businesses that are creating jobs and encourage other entrepreneurs to follow suit.

“It is a symbol of how important it is for us to spur entrepreneurship, to help startups, to move aggressively so that we can assure more companies that create the most jobs in our economy are getting a leg up from various programs that we have in our government,” Mr. Obama said at the beginning of a Cabinet meeting at the White House.

The president also welcomed Karen Mills, who heads the Small Business Administration, to her first Cabinet meeting following the elevation of her agency to Cabinet-level status. As part of a streamlining and restructuring effort among government business agencies, the White House made the move earlier this month.

The legislative package contains four tax breaks for small business, proposals making it easier for a company to raise money and go public, as well as a provision to address immigrant visa backlogs. Building on 17 small business tax cuts Mr. Obama previously signed into law, the bill would make permanent a tax cut enacted in 2010 that eliminates taxes on capital gains for certain small business investments.

It would also provide a new tax credit for 2012 that would give a 10 percent payroll income tax credit for small businesses that either hire workers or increase their wages and double deductions for start-up expenses, increasing their limit from $5,000 to $10,000. In addition, the measure would allow first-year companies to continue to deduct the costs of equipment and software purchases.

Under the startup plan, the Department of Homeland Security also will attempt to alter the visa process to attract more foreign-born entrepreneurs and highly skilled immigrants to the United States.

The proposal contains pieces of different bipartisan measures authored by Democratic Sen. Christopher A. Coons of Delaware and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, as well as another offered by Republican Jerry Moran of Kansas and Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia.

A spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said Tuesday that House Republicans already have moved several pieces of the package in their chamber, but the bills have died in the Senate where Democratic leaders have blocked them.

“We may have found some common ground,” Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck wrote Tuesday in an email to reporters. “Today, in his small business package, the president has endorsed a number of them. In fact, the House has already acted on more than half of the ideas that the president is sending to Congress today. Perhaps, to speed the process along, he should just submit them to the Senate — where the Democratic majority has been blocking our bills.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney said he was not familiar with how many of the measures had passed the House only to be blocked in the Senate, conceding only that “there has been obstructionism in both chambers.”
The president “will continue to try to work with both [chambers] of Congress to reach a consensus on measures such as taxes for small business and investments in infrastructure,” he added.