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Obama to seek extension of R&D tax credits

Boosting business research and development is part of the president's broader plan for the economy. Other proposals call for increased infrastructure spending and continuing tax cuts for the middle class.

September 06, 2010|By Christi Parsons, Tribune Washington Bureau

Reporting from Washington — President Obama will ask Congress to pass a $100-billion plan to expand and permanently extend the tax credits for businesses that invest in research and development, part of a larger plan for spurring the economy that he is to unveil in greater detail Wednesday.

In an address at a Cleveland-area community college, Obama will call for an increase to 17% from 14% in one of the credit options available to businesses, an administration official said Sunday.

Obama will propose paying for the plan in part by closing corporate tax breaks for multinational corporations and some energy companies.

The president will announce his plan to extend the tax credits along with proposals to increase spending on highways and other infrastructure projects and to continue the middle-class portion of the Bush administration tax cuts. Those tax cuts are scheduled to expire in four months.

The president's proposals are likely to have only a modest effect on the economy in the short term. Republicans oppose Obama's economic policy, making more sweeping proposals politically untenable for the Democratic president.

Obama chose Cuyahoga Community College as the site of his announcement partly to contrast his plans with those of Ohio's John A. Boehner, the House Republican leader, who offered his own thoughts on the economy during a recent address nearby. Boehner stands to become speaker of the House if Democrats lose control of the chamber in November's congressional election.

Obama also intends to present listeners with a choice between his ideas on the economy and the GOP's "failed policies and failed philosophy," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said.

In his weekly radio and Internet address over the weekend, Obama noted the nation's continuing unemployment woes but took credit for policies that "stopped the bleeding" in the jobs market.

"This Labor Day, we are reminded that we didn't become the most prosperous country in the world by rewarding greed and recklessness," Obama said in the address. "We did it by rewarding hard work and responsibility. We did it by recognizing that we rise or we fall together as one nation, one people, all of us vested in one another."

Boehner and other Republicans oppose the president's general philosophy, along with most proposals that have been floated by Democrats. In his remarks in late August, Boehner said the economy was bound up by "endless spending sprees, entangled tax structures and bureaucracy run amok." He called on Obama to get rid of his entire economic team and draft a plan to return federal spending to its 2008 levels.

On Monday, Obama is set to travel to Milwaukee to mark the Labor Day holiday and talk about the economy. He also plans to hold a news conference Friday at the White House.

He is also expected to announce soon a replacement for his newly departed head of the Council of Economic Advisors. Christina Romer stepped down from that position last week to return to her job as an economics professor at UC Berkeley.

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