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Obama proposes merging agencies, elevating SBA to cabinet level

George C. Ford, CR Gazette –

President Barack Obama on Friday proposed merging six government agencies that focus on international trade and commerce into a single department, saying it will help the nation’s exporters and boost the economy.

Obama asked Congress for powers to consolidate the agencies, including the U.S. Department of Commerce and five other smaller agencies. The president’s plans also would affect the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corp. and the Trade and Development Agency.

Obama also elevated the head of the Small Business Administration to Cabinet-level status on Friday.

A spokesman for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Republican lawmakers would give Obama’s proposal a “careful review” once they have seen the details.

Between 1,000 to 2,000 jobs would be eliminated through attrition and the merger would save $3 billion over 10 years by getting rid of duplicative costs and programs, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing a government official.

The SBA approved 674 loans in Iowa for $293.6 million in fiscal 2011, which ended Sept. 30, compared with 944 loans for $261.3 million in fiscal 2010. The ARC Loan program, a one-time $35,000 deferred interest loan with a 100 percent guarantee, accounted for 242 loans for $8.1 million in fiscal 2010.

Nationally, the SBA approved 61,689 loans for $30.5 billion in fiscal 2011 through its two largest loan programs, compared with 60,771 loans for $22.6 billion in fiscal 2010.

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