Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Small-business tax breaks clear a hurdle in the Senate

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats, bolstered by the support of two retiring Republicans, beat back a filibuster yesterday to clear the way for a bill packed with tax breaks and other benefits for small businesses.

The measure, which was opposed by Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts and 36 of his GOP colleagues, would create a $30 billion government fund to encourage lending and would eliminate capital gains taxes for long-term investors in some small businesses.

President Obama has called it a much-needed salve for small businesses struggling to recover from the recession.

Last week Senator George Voinovich, an Ohio Republican, chided his party’s foot-dragging on the bill and vowed to support it, the first of several economic initiatives the White House has been pushing since Congress returned from its summer recess. George LeMieux of Florida joined Voinovich to support closing debate on the bill, which clears it for final passage this week. Neither man is seeking reelection.

Brown, however, called the bill another bailout.

“This bill includes a provision just like TARP,’’ he said after voting against the bill. “Banks making lending decisions with government funds is not the way to get our economy moving again.’’

His Senate Democratic counterpart, John Kerry, declared the vote a victory. “This bill provides vital aid to the small businesses that can drive growth and create jobs in these tough economic times,’’ Kerry, who previously chaired the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, said in a statement.

Kerry wrote some of the provisions in the bill, including an extension of some Small Business Administration lending programs and fee waivers.

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