WASHINGTON — Scoring a prized political victory five weeks before the Nov. 2 elections, President Barack Obama on Monday signed a bill to help small businesses expand and hire by cutting their taxes and creating a $30 billion loan fund.
Obama said the incentives will help small businesses right away.
The bill had been delayed for months, blocked in the Senate by Republicans. Most in the GOP objected to the loan fund, comparing it to the 2008 financial industry bailout and arguing that it would encourage banks to make loans to risky borrowers. Two GOP senators, George LeMieux of Florida and George Voinovich of Ohio, helped Democrats break the filibuster this month — and the bill passed.
"It was critical that we cut taxes and make more loans available to entrepreneurs," the president said before signing the bill in the East Room of the White House. "Today, after a long and tough fight, I am signing a small-business jobs bill that does exactly that."
The bill creates a $30 billion government fund to help encourage lending to small businesses, many of which have been having difficulty securing bank loans and credit. The fund will be available to community banks, which could use the money to leverage billions more in loans.
The legislation also includes about $12 billion in eight separate tax breaks for small business. One such provision increases to $500,000 the amount of investments that businesses would be allowed to write off this year and next.
The measure also gives a boost to some Small Business Administration loan programs.
"This bill will do two big things," Obama said before signing it. "It's going to cut taxes and it's going to make more loans available for small businesses. It's a great victory for America's entrepreneurs."
Several business owners who stood with Obama for the signing echoed his sentiments afterward.
Prachee Devada, founder of Synergy Enterprises, an information technology company in Silver Spring, Md., told reporters that she'll be hiring at least 20 people as a result of the new law. She said she hired about 20 people under contracts funded by the economic stimulus. "Obviously, this bill is making a huge difference to me as a small business," Devada said.