Startup America Legislative Agenda: Breaking Down Obama's Small-Business Proposal To Congress

President Barack Obama sent a small-business proposal to Congress Tuesday, calling on bipartisan support for small businesses. The Startup America Legislative Agenda -- which proposes tax breaks, capital for startups and visa reforms to boost high-skilled workers and entrepreneurs -- was introduced on the first anniversary of the White House Startup America Initiative.

The estimated $48 billion agenda, which Obama will include in his 2013 budget, includes:

  • A 10 percent income tax credit for small businesses that create jobs or increase wages in 2012
  • Permanent doubling of the amount of startup expenses entrepreneurs can deduct from their taxes, from $5,000 to $10,000
  • Permanent elimination of taxes on capital gains in key small-business investments
  • A one-year extension of the tax deduction on first-year business equipment and software purchases
  • An "IPO on-ramp" to change how some of the SEC laws and regulations are phased in for small startups in their first years after an IPO
  • Opening the door for smaller IPOs by increasing the limits on "mini offerings" from $5 million to $50 million, exempting these companies from some SEC registration requirements
  • A national framework by which small businesses can raise capital through crowdfunding
  • Increase of the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program from $3 billion to $4 billion
  • Elimination of country-specific caps for certain immigrant visa categories to attract high-skilled foreign workers and entrepreneurs.

Before a Cabinet meeting -- SBA Administrator Karen Mills' first as a Cabinet member -- Obama said making a difference for small businesses requires an "all-hands-on-deck" approach. "I know that the Department of Commerce, Energy, and Education, as well as the SBA, are all launching complementary initiatives to support entrepreneurship as well," he said. "And so what we want to do is to make sure that every single agency, even as they're tending to their energy initiatives or providing homeland security or transportation or defense, that we're also thinking about how are we advancing the cause of giving small businesses and entrepreneurs opportunities to start creating the next Google or the next Apple or the next innovative company that's going to create jobs and improve our economy."