WASHINGTON (AP) -- In an effort to create more jobs, President Barack Obama will ask Congress to temporarily expand two lending programs for the owners of small businesses, an administration official said Friday.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity because the president hadn't yet announced the proposal, a White House official said the plan would temporarily increase the cap on Small Business Administration Express loans from the current maximum of $350,000 to $1 million.
Obama's plan would also expand the SBA's program to support refinancing for owner-occupied commercial real-estate loans.
To be eligible, business owners must have first mortgages and be current on all loan payments for the previous year. The White House said the proposal would help refinance up to $18.7 billion each year in commercial real estate that might otherwise be foreclosed and liquidated.
The programs were to be announced Friday when the president meets with small-business owners in Lanham, Md., hours after the Labor Department released the January unemployment report. The jobless rate dropped from 10 percent to 9.7 percent from December to January, and 20,000 jobs were lost.
With the president's poll numbers falling, Obama has stepped up his focus on the economy and job creation. He wants to send $30 billion from the bank bailout program to community banks for lending to small businesses that need loans to increase their output and hire additional workers.
The president has also proposed eliminating capital gains taxes on small businesses in 2010 and giving small businesses a $5,000 tax credit for every new job created.