Obama Wants to Fuel Job Growth Via Breaks for Small Business

As many Americans hoped -- and expected -- President Obama made job growth the centerpiece of his first State of the Union address Wednesday: "Jobs must be our number one focus in 2010." He called for a host of tax breaks and incentives to stimulate jobs growth, especially for small businesses.Said Obama: "We should start where most new jobs do -- in small businesses, companies that begin when an entrepreneur takes a chance on a dream, or a worker decides its time she became her own boss."

The president proposed that $30 billion of the money repaid by Wall Street banks that received government funds be redirected to community banks in an effort to stimulate consumer and small-business lending.

A Familiar Platform

Obama also called for eliminating capital-gains taxes on investments in small businesses, tax credits for businesses hiring new employees or those that raise wages, and an extension and expansion of tax breaks to small businesses that invest in new plants and equipment. The proposals substantially date back to Obama's presidential campaign but have since take a backseat to overhauling health care insurance, among other matters.

"If we had allowed a meltdown of the financial system, unemployment might be double what it is today," Obama said, defending the bank bailout and recently proposed reforms.

It's unclear whether the latest proposals would make much of a dent in the dire unemployment picture. The economy has lost more than 7 million jobs since the recession began in late 2007, and unemployment is forecast to remain stubbornly close to 10% throughout 2010.

"They Need Our Help"

Obama's tack-on stimulus package could "provide a boost to infrastructure-related stocks in the Industrials sector and help boost alternative energy companies, including those in the Information Technology sector," Jeffrey Kleintop, chief market strategist at LPL Financial, told clients ahead of the president's address.

In an effort to make his point exceedingly clear, the President implored the Congress assembled before him: " People are out of work. They are hurting. They need our help. And I want a jobs bill on my desk without delay." Millions of out-of-work Americans will have little argument with that.
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