WASHINGTON -- Sen. Harry Reid on Monday set the next step in the Democrats' "jobs agenda," announcing the Senate will take up a bill offering tax breaks to small businesses that hire workers or invest in new equipment.
The bill combines initiatives sought by President Barack Obama, who said in January they would spur small business startups and entrepreneurs. It follows on the heels of legislation Congress is close to finishing that would loosen securities regulations to make it easier for smaller businesses to sell stock and raise capital.
"This is the kind of legislation that there should not be a fight," said Reid, the Senate majority leader from Nevada. "This is a place where Democrats and Republicans should be able to find common ground. I hope (Republicans) don't want to fight about this."
The measure would do the following:
■ Provide small companies with a 10 percent tax credit up to $500,000 on payroll added this year through new hiring. It is similar to the HIRE Act, which provided tax benefits to employers who brought on jobless workers in 2010.
■ Extend a 100 percent write-off on equipment that is placed in service this year, rather than having owners spread depreciation over multiple years.
"With the economy showing signs of turning a corner, Congress should be doing more, not less, to spur hiring," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who joined Reid on a conference call with reporters.
The Democratic package could cost an estimated $25 billion. It compares with a $46 billion plan introduced by House Republican leaders last week that contains a 20 percent income tax cut for businesses with fewer than 500 employers.
Schumer said the Democrats' bill "is the way to go according to experts in terms of maximizing bang for the buck in hiring.
"The House Republican proposal is neither focused on true small businesses, nor does it make the tax cut dependent at all on the company doing any hiring," Schumer said.
"The House proposal would give tax cuts to sports franchises and celebrity companies that don't need the help and in some cases have billions of dollars in revenue, even if those companies don't grow their payroll at all. Our proposal is more targeted to actual job creation."
The Senate leaders did not say when the bill would be brought up for votes.