President Barack hosted a group of award-winning small business owners from around the country in the White House Rose Garden and used the occasion to prod Congress to pass the administration’s Small Business Jobs Package.

“This legislation should ensure that creditworthy small business owners can get the capital they need to expand and create jobs,” he said on Tuesday. “It should include needed tax relief, like our proposal to completely eliminate capital gains taxes for those making key long-term investments in small businesses. It should include expansions of vital Small Business Administration loan programs that are needed now more than ever. And it should include two important lending initiatives that I recently sent to Congress.”

One of those is a $30 billion Small Business Lending Fund that Obama promoted in his State of the Union address. The fund would target small community and neighborhood banks to encourage them to increase lending to small businesses. The second initiative, Obama noted, is a new state small business credit program developed in coordination with several governors that would help expand private lending for small businesses and manufacturers at a time when budget shortfalls are leading states to cut back on vitally important lending programs.

Elements of the administration’s small business jobs package passed in the House Financial Services Committee last week by a vote of 42-23 on the Small Business Lending Fund Act, and the Senate is working on the issue as well. The House bill includes the $30 billion fund to boost small business lending and an amendment that would provide federal funding for state lending programs.

“This shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” said Obama. “This is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue. This should not be an issue about big government versus small government.  This is an issue that involves putting government on the side of small business owners who create most of the jobs in this country. It’s about giving them tax credits and loans and tax cuts so they can keep growing and keep hiring.”

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