VOA NEWS — U.S. President Barack Obama is urging Congress to pass a measure intended to help small businesses, which are the source of most new jobs in the economy.

In a White House speech Monday, Mr. Obama said opposition Republicans should stop holding the measure “hostage” for partisan reasons.

The bill would bring more tax cuts and easier loans to small businesses.

U.S. economic problems are a top issue in November’s congressional elections, and Republicans hope to take seats and power away from Mr. Obama’s Democratic Party allies.

There was a bit of good news about the U.S. economy Monday as a report showed consumer spending rose in July.

The Commerce Department says consumer spending grew four-tenths of a percent in July after being flat the previous month.

Economists watch consumer spending closely because consumer demand drives most U.S. economic activity.

Investors will get several other kinds of economic information this week, as officials and experts are scheduled to publish assessments of consumer confidence, two reports on manufacturing, and two looks at the employment situation.

Friday’s closely watched report on unemployment is expected to show a slight increase in the unemployment rate, rising one-tenth of a percent to hit 9.6 percent.

Some information in this story was provided by AP, Bloomberg and Reuter

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