Obama signs $30 billion small business lending bill

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. But any hiring may not be enough to help some Democrats ahead of crucial midterm elections in which voters are expected to vent their frustrations over a slow-growing economy and near-10 percent unemployment.

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 Voinovich of Ohio and George LeMieux of Florida, helped Democrats break the filibuster this month — and the bill passed.

Obama said small businesses are "the anchors of our Main Streets," creating most of the jobs in the country.

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 tax breaks for small business — eight separate tax cuts that take effect Monday. One such provision increases to $500,000 the amount of investments that businesses would be allowed to write off this year and next.

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