(CNN) – President Barack Obama on Wednesday challenged Senate Republicans to back a bill that would help small businesses, calling its provisions "things the Republican Party has said it supported for years."
Speaking at a New Jersey sandwich shop, Obama said the bill would help people like the shop's owners and other small-business operators by easing their tax burden and helping them get more credit.
"Surely, Democrats and Republicans ought to be able to agree on this bill," Obama said.
The president was surrounded by a group of local small-business owners, including the owners of the Tastee Sub Shop in Edison, New Jersey, where Obama bought a sandwich.
"This town, Edison, is name after somebody who was not only one of history's greatest inventors but also a pretty savvy small-business owner," Obama said of Thomas Edison, the inventor of the incandescent light bulb.
Calling small businesses "the backbone" of the nation, he said they generate two of every three U.S. jobs and allow people to pursue entrepreneurial dreams essential to the American spirit.
The small-business bill before the Senate would set up a $30 billion lending fund to help community banks offer small businesses credit. It also would provide tax breaks to small businesses that invest in new equipment and hire unemployed workers. The House passed a similar bill in June.
Republican opposition has focused on the cost of the measure, but Obama said Wednesday that the real reason is to obstruct progress for short-term political gain.
"We've seen a fair amount of obstruction that's had more to do with gaining political advantage than helping the country," Obama said.
The purpose of the small-business bill is to help entrepreneurs succeed, not prop them up, he said, adding: "Government can't guarantee success, but it can knock down barriers that keep entrepreneurs from opening or expanding."
"If this bill becomes law, small businesses and startups will see the positive benefits right away," Obama said, noting that it would eliminate
capital gains taxes for key investments and allow small businesses to write off appreciation on new equipment.
"This is as American as apple pie," Obama said of the bill.