ABC News' Rachel Martin reports:
President Obama invoked the American dream in his weekly address today — putting the spotlight on small businesses and his efforts to get these businesses the credit they need to grow.
These are the millions of Americans who "embody the spirit of possibility, the relentless work ethic and the hope for something better," the president said.
But he noted that this segment of the population has been hardest hit by the current recession.
"Over the past couple of years, small businesses have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs," he said. "Many have struggled to get the loans they need to finance their inventories and make payroll. Many entrepreneurs can’t get financing to start a small business in the first place. And many more are discouraged from even trying because of the crushing costs of health care."
While the focus of his remarks were on the need for small businesses to access better lines of credit, the president worked in another pitch for health care reform.
"In addition, our health reform plan will allow small businesses to buy insurance for their employees through an insurance exchange, which may offer better coverage at lower costs – and we’ll provide tax credits for those that choose to do so," he said.
President Obama said small businesses are the key to economic recovery, adding that if they are going to grow, they need help.
To that end, the president called on Congress to "increase the maximum size of various SBA loans, so that more small business owners can set up shop and grow their operations. I also announced that we’ll be taking additional steps through our financial stability plan to make more credit available to the small local and community banks that so many small businesses depend on."
The president said that though large businesses are back on solid ground with the help of the stimulus bill, small businesses are still struggling.
"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," he said. "It’s time for those banks to fulfill their responsibility to help ensure a wider recovery, a more secure system and more broadly shared prosperity."
And any real, long term economic recovery, he said, means building up the American middle class and the small businesspeople who built it.
"This country was built by dreamers," President Obama said. "They’re the workers who took a chance on their desire to be their own boss, the part-time inventors who became the full-time entrepreneurs, the men and women who have helped build the American middle class, keeping alive that most American of ideals. … We need to do everything we can to ensure that they can keep taking those risks, acting on those dreams, and building the enterprises that fuel our economy and make us who we are."