Obama plans $33 billion tax credit for jobs and wages

When President Obama called last month for a new tax break to spur job creation, critics blasted him for offering no specifics. On Friday, Obama filled in the details: He wants to give businesses a $5,000 tax credit for each net new employee they hire this year.

Job creation “must be our No. 1 focus in 2010,” Obama said Wednesday night in his State of the Union address. “We should start where most new jobs do — in small businesses.”

Obama traveled Friday to Baltimore, where the local unemployment rate is nearly 11%, to unveil his tax-cut road map. He got a tour of the Chesapeake Machine Company, a local manufacturing and repair company that has been around since 1981.

Earlier Friday morning, a government report showed that the U.S. economy grew at the fastest pace in more than six years during the last quarter of 2009: GDP rose at a 5.7% annual rate. But even as the economy is rebounding, unemployment hangs in the double digits. [Read the full article]

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In a strong affirmation of New Hampshire’s Right-to-Know Law, the state Supreme Court on Friday ordered an umbrella organization that represents municipalities and schools to release individual salary records to a firefighters’ union tracking the organization’s use of taxpayer money paid for health insurance.

But Chief Justice John Broderick — writing for a unanimous court — disagreed and said public access gives direct insight into the operations of a public body through scrutiny of wages paid to particular job titles.

“Public scrutiny can expose corruption, incompetence, inefficiency, prejudice and favoritism,” Broderick wrote. [Read the full article]

The Senate on Thursday voted to raise the cap on how much the government can borrow to a record level.

Getting just enough votes to pass, the Senate moved to increase the debt limit to $1.9 trillion. That would push the ceiling to $14.294 trillion from the current $12.394 trillion. The 60-39 vote broke down along party lines, with no Republican voting in favor.

A $1.9 trillion increase is expected to cover the Treasury’s projected borrowing needs through at least early 2011, and in any case well past the November mid-term elections. Debt limit votes are always politically difficult and not ones lawmakers seeking re-election like to take.

The ceiling reflects the level up to which the Treasury Department is allowed to borrow. If the ceiling is ever breached, the country would effectively be in default. That can hurt bonds, the dollar and creditors’ portfolios.

The Senate legislation also included an amendment that seeks to rein in the growth rate in U.S. [Read the full article]

House Democrats outlined a plan Friday to steer private money toward growing small businesses, historic renovations and hotel construction at the Mall of America with tax credits and other tax measures.

They aim to revive tax incentives that passed the Legislature in past years as part of larger tax bills that were vetoed.

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This time, though, the credits and other measures would be put forward in a separate bill, and House Taxes Committee Chairwoman Ann Lenczewski said she is shooting for quick agreement on the package with Senate Democrats and Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

“We are working in the world of the doable. This is not fantasy legislation,” said Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington.

House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher promised thousands of jobs would come from three bills, including the tax proposal, a public works bonding bill and economic development initiatives still being worked out. [Read the full article]

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