WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama called on Congress Tuesday to pass a package of tax changes, credits and loans designed to help the small businesses that he called the “driving force behind this recovery.”

In a Rose Garden event, Obama lobbied lawmakers for help as he honored the small-business owners of the year.

Obama is pushing the House and Senate to adopt a package that includes eliminating capital gains taxes for those making long-term investments in small businesses; expanding Small Business Administration loans; creating a lending fund that would target only community banks; and creating a small-business credit program for states that have had to cut back on their own lending programs.

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“This should not be an issue of big government versus small government,” Obama said. “This is an issue that involves putting our government on the side of the small-business owners who create most of the jobs in this country.”

Small businesses lost 2.4 million jobs from the middle of 2007 through the end of 2008, Obama said.

Obama also thanked the Small Business Administration for helping workers and business owners impacted by the devastating oil spill in the Gulf Coast.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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