From NBC's Athena Jones
President Obama on Friday called on Congress to do more to help small businesses, which he called America's "most important engine for hiring and for growth."
The president said he wanted the Senate to pass a bill that would provide tax cuts for small businesses and increase lending to those businesses. A small business jobs bill containing these measures could come up for final vote in the Senate in the next few days.
The bill would set up a $30 billion fund to help community banks offer loans to small companies -- a provision that has won bipartisan support, help states encourage more private sector loans to small firms in hard-hit industries like manufacturing and construction, expand small business initiatives and more than double the size of loans available to small business owners. Obama said he hoped to see the bill pass "without delay" and without "partisan wrangling," arguing that small business owners "can't afford any more political games."
"They didn't send us here to wage a never-ending campaign; they didn't send us here to do what's best for our political party," Obama told reporters gathered in the Roosevelt Room. "They sent us here to govern and that's what I hope we will do in the remaining days before the Congress takes its August recess."
The administration believes help for small businesses will spur hiring to solidify what has turned out to be a slow-paced economic recovery. The White House also wants to see Congress pass aid to states faced with budget shortfalls so they can retain school teachers and other officials.
But there is not a lot of support for more spending as the mid-term elections approach, with Republicans especially opposing anything that would add to the budget deficit.
The small business bill joins other measures the administration wants to see pushed through Congress in the coming days. There are several important matters the White House is hoping the Senate -- in particular -- can dispatch with before it breaks for the August recess, including ratifying the New START -- which the president signed in Prague in April -- and confirming Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.