WASHINGTON- President Barack Obama on Saturday appealed to fellow Democrats and rival Republicans to back a plan to use $30 billion in bank bailout funds to help small businesses.
Obama has faced opposition to the proposal from Republicans who want money paid back to the government by big banks returned to the U.S. Treasury for deficit reduction.
The president used his weekly radio and Web address to promote his proposals to generate job growth in small businesses by using $30 billion from the Troubled Asset Relief Program fund for small business loans and offering a new tax credit for over 1 million small businesses that hire new workers or raise wages.
He spoke days before the U.S. Congress begins considering a new multibillion-dollar jobs bill aimed at spurring job growth and bringing down the country's 9.7 percent jobless rate.
The political climate in Washington is fractured as lawmakers adjust to a new reality now that Democrats no longer have a 60-vote supermajority in the Senate after a Republican won a Senate seat in Massachusetts.
Pursuing a theme he began in his State of the Union address January 27, Obama called on both parties to come together where they can to address the weak economy.
I urge members of both parties: do not oppose good ideas just because it's good politics to do so, Obama said. The proposals I've outlined are not Democratic or Republican; liberal or conservative.
They are pro-business, they are pro-growth, and they are pro-job. Leaders in both parties have supported similar ideas in the past. So let's come together and pass these measures without delay.
Republicans made clear they are looking skeptically at any Democratic proposal that increases the level of government spending, criticizing Obama's proposed $3.8 trillion budget for fiscal 2011.
Americans are still asking, 'where are the jobs?' but all they are getting from Washington is more spending, more taxes, more debt and more bailouts, Republican Representative Jeb Hensarling said in his party's weekly address.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Eric Beech)