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Obama promises help for small businesses

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday his administration will make it easier for small businesses to get credit they need to grow and create new jobs.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama noted that he asked Congress this week to increase the maximum amount of some Small Business Administration loans to help small businesses, which he called vital to the nation's economic recovery.

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"The goal here is to get credit where it's needed most -- to businesses that support families, sustain communities and create the jobs that power our economy," Obama said.

But, he said: "Too many small business owners are still struggling to get the credit they need…. These are the very taxpayers who stood by America's banks in a crisis, and now it's time for our banks to stand by creditworthy small businesses and make the loans they need to open their doors, grow their operations and create new jobs."

Small businesses, which Obama said have created 65 percent of all new jobs over the past 15 years, have been hard hit in the recession and high costs of healthcare, losing hundreds of thousands of jobs, struggling to get loans to make payroll and resorting to cutting benefits, shedding jobs or closing.

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Obama said the economic-stimulus package has provided small businesses $5 billion in tax relief, temporarily reduced or eliminated fees on SBA loans and guaranteed some loans up to 90 percent, supporting nearly $13 billion in new lending to more than 33,000 businesses.

Sounding a familiar note, the president also said healthcare reform would help small businesses, by giving them tax credits for buying insurance for employees through an insurance exchange designed to lower costs of coverage.

Obama urged banks to "fulfill their responsibility to help ensure a wider recovery, a more secure system and more broadly shared prosperity."

"Our economy as a whole can't move ahead if small businesses and the middle class continue to fall behind," he said.

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