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Obama to Republicans: 'Drop blockade' on small business bill

From NBC's Ali Weinberg
After his 10-day vacation and stop yesterday in New Orleans, President Obama kicked off his first day back at the White House with a call for Senate Republicans to "drop the blockade" on passing a bill intended to increase lending and to reduce capital gains taxes for small businesses.

The bill has floundered in the Senate since a Republican filibuster in late July, due to objections over a $30 billion government-funded lending pool -- a part of the bill that the White House proposed to Congress in early May.

"This bill has been held up by a partisan minority that won't even allow it to go to a vote," Obama said.

He added that passing the bill should be Congress's "first order of business" when it returns from recess in September, adding that he would be addressing the proposals in the bill in the days and weeks to come.

"Just this morning, a story showed that small businesses have put hiring and expanding on hold while waiting for the Senate to act on this bill," Obama said, likely referring to a USA Today article on businesses in holding patterns. "Simply put, holding this bill hostage is directly detrimental to our economic growth."

Republicans pre-butted the president's speech, as the Republican National Committee held a conference call with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who assailed the Obama administration and Congress for implementing what they called failed economic policies.

While he did not directly refer to the small business bill, Ryan criticized what he called a "fiscal explosion," citing programs like the economic stimulus plan, health care reform, and financial regulation that he said drove up the nation's debt without creating jobs.

"The Keynesian experiment of more spending has failed to produce jobs," Ryan said, referring to economist John Maynard Keynes' theory of macro-economic stabilization through government intervention.

Both speakers offered, in broad terms, their own recommendations for economic recovery. Holtz-Eakin said growth needs to come through private investment and international trade, while Ryan reiterated his desire to restructure government spending, first and foremost through its entitlement programs.