Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele appeared on Fox News today to bash President Obama’s recent proposal to help small businesses and jump start the economy. Dubbing it “TARP III,” Steele said Obama’s plan wouldn’t work because it focuses on extending credit lines to small business, which Steele claimed “they don’t need”:
STEELE: What we have right now is more of the same, you have the president proposing a small business bill, which is nothing more than TARP III or mini-TARP, in which basically, you’re going to put money into financial institutions on the assumption that small businesses are going to go and take out credit loans, or credit lines — they don’t need that.
Steele’s dismissal of the need to extend credit lines to small businesses is curious, considering that he touted the very idea as a key Republican proposal just last week on Sean Hannity’s Fox show:
STEELE: Republican leadership on the Hill has offered time and time again and will continue to do so until they take the majority in November when they can actually begin to act and put into place these policies that empower small businesses by creating — helping them create jobs by opening up capital and credit markets.
And on September 1st, Steele questioned Democratic efforts to help small businesses precisely because he claimed they didn’t extend enough credit to those firms. “[L]ook at the bill,” Steele told pundit Roland Martin on his podcast, “does it do for small businesses what small businesses need to have done? How much credit and capital is it made accessible to them?”
In fact, Steele has repeatedly expounded on the need to extend credit to small businesses. For example, in June on CNBC, countering the notion that Republicans haven’t presented any ideas, Steele said, “We talked about freeing up the capital markets and credit markets to allow small business to access that capital and credit so they can invest.”
Last year, on ABC’s This Week, Steele attacked the administration for not doing the very thing he is attacking them for doing today:
STEELE: And I didn’t hear anything from [White House economic advisor Larry] Summers that assured me or reassured me that this administration gets it when it comes to how you create wealth in this nation. It is not by spending dollars on programs that you can put in a separate bill and deal with later on, instead its focusing on, you know, tax credits and relief for small-business owners, incentives for people to get back into the credit markets.
The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent reports that Steele spokesman Doug Heye later clarified his boss’ comment, explaining that “Steele was referring to small businesses not needing the bill overall, and wasn’t focused specifically on the lines of credit.” He also cited a study saying that consumer confidence is more important than credit lines for small businesses.