The White House convened a jobs summit in which President Obama heard from business and union leaders about various proposals for reducing unemployment, including tax incentives  for job creation.

“It’s an idea we find worthy of further consideration,” said Obama.

Obama sat in on some of the discussions, including roundtables on infrastructure investment and green jobs. “There’s a broad consensus that the infrastructure is not where it needs to be,” he said. “How can we measure the costs and benefits of infrastructure investment and make sure that shovel ready means shovel ready.” Obama also heard ideas about how workers can be hired to retrofit buildings with more energy-efficient windows and technology.

Separately, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced a bill that would extend the tax credit for the production of electricity from wind and open-loop biomass through Dec. 31, 2016. “Green energy is a real bright spot in our economic future,” Grassley said in a statement. “We need to keep up the momentum for job creation, a clean environment and energy independence. Getting these tax incentives extended is important to help businesses secure the loans they need to make the investments necessary to create jobs.”

In addition to extending the tax credits, the legislation would increase the amount of bond authority for new clean renewable energy bonds to finance facilities that generate electricity from wind, closed-loop biomass, open-loop biomass, geothermal, small irrigation, hydropower, landfill gas, marine renewable, and municipal trash combustion facilities.

For all businesses, the Grassley bill extends bonus depreciation for one year, so that businesses are able to deduct half of the value of any property placed in service in 2010. The 50 percent first-year bonus depreciation allowance in current law expires at the end of this year. The provision would help wind energy businesses invest in turbines and related equipment.

The jobs summit met with skepticism in some quarters, including a small business advocacy group that wants more small businesses to receive federal contracts.

“Just like President Obama's small business lending forum, his jobs summit looks more like a publicity stunt than a legitimate attempt at helping small businesses and creating jobs,” said American Small Business League president Lloyd Chapman. He believes Obama should push for the passage of H.R. 2568, the Fairness and Transparency in Contracting Act of 2009, which would redirect up to $400 million a day in current federal infrastructure spending back to small businesses where over 97 percent of net new jobs are created.

“If you are a big corporation, right now the credit markets are working for you,” said Obama. “But if you are a small business, you are still seeing credit frozen and we are going to unlock that.”

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