Obama promotes small business agenda in Buffalo

Published 12:09 am Friday, May 14, 2010

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — President Obama asked Congress on Thursday to act quickly on a new round of jobs legislation, arguing that ‘‘fancy formulas and mathematical equations’’ from economists mask the continuing pain in American households.

‘‘It’s great that the stock market has bounced back,’’ Obama said during a three-hour stop in western New York, a region already in decline long before the economic downturn. ‘‘But if you’re still looking for a job, it’s still a recession. If you can’t pay your bills or your mortgage, it’s still a recession. No matter what the economists say, it’s not a real recovery until people can feel it in their own lives.’’

Citing last week’s economic reports showing job growth in the U.S. for the fourth straight month, the president argued that his steps to rescue the economy are working. He focused on his administration’s efforts to help small businesses.

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But given an unemployment rate that continues to hover near 10 percent, Obama urged Congress to act on new job creation measures that could further strengthen small businesses.

The president also took a swipe at Republican lawmakers, accusing them of sitting on the sidelines as the economic crisis unfolded.

‘‘If we had taken that position, just thinking about what was good for my politics, millions more Americans would have lost their jobs,’’ Obama told workers at Industrial Support, Inc., a small manufacturing company.

Obama began his White House-to-Main Street tour in December with a trip to Allentown, Pa. He has also made stops in Charlotte, N.C., Savannah, Ga., and Quincy, Ill. He’ll travel to Youngstown, Ohio, next week.

The president long has said he believes the success of small businesses will be vital to the nation’s economic recovery. Last week, the president sent Congress a proposal to create a $30 billion support program to unfreeze credit for small businesses.

The health care overhaul he signed into law in March also included tax credits for small businesses, and the president has said those already are reaching some companies.

On Thursday, Obama said he has asked the Small Business Administration to become more proactive in helping small business owners, or those who want to start small businesses, get the training they need to be competitive.

Help for small businesses would be especially welcome in cities like Buffalo, where large corporations have downsized and manufacturing jobs have been shipped overseas. Western New York long has suffered from a lack of job growth and population losses. Two New York state residents who’ve started a website to draw attention to unemployment and other problems they blame on Washington put up a billboard along Interstate 190 that reads: ‘‘Dear Mr. President. I need a freakin’ job. Period.’’

The manufacturing company he visited Thursday added workers last fall after receiving a loan offered to small businesses through the president’s $862 billion stimulus plan. That type of success, Obama said, makes him ‘‘want to double-down and work harder.’’

Obama also met briefly with several people who lost family members in a 2009 plane crash in a Buffalo suburb. The families have been pushing for changes in aviation safety regulations in the wake of the crash, which killed 50, and Obama told them during the 10-minute private talk that their advocacy will help the cause move forward.

From Buffalo, Obama traveled to New York City for a Democratic congressional fundraiser. At the city’s police headquarters, he thanked officers who responded to the May 1 attempted bombing in Times Square.