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SBA Budget an Icebreaker?

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It would be ironic if the 2012-2013 budget for the U.S. Small Business Administration were to break the partisan gridlock in Congress during this election year, but House Republicans have offered the Obama administration and Senate Democrats just that opportunity.

I rely on Robb Mandelbaum's reporting yesterday in the New York Times small business blog, You're the Boss, to bring you this pleasant political development. "In all," Mandelbaum writes, "House Republicans have proposed appropriating $1.16 billion to SBA ... about $40 million more than the Obama administration has sought and $237 million more than the agency received this year."

For a variety of reasons, usually philosophical bordering on radically ideological, SBA funding -- most of which goes to guarantee small-business loans that help the nation's business owners make more money -- has been a partisan battleground where the ideologues win and small businesses are left to gasp over a lack of capital.

But the House Republican proposal here, at least on its surface, suggests a mutual understanding that SBA is no evil wielder of reckless deficit-producing government spending. And that small business could use the government's help to pick itself up from the Great Recession. The confluence of good vibe over SBA was further reinforced on Thursday when the Senate Appropriations Committee proposed a similar total spending bill for SBA at $1.12 billion.

Any senator or representative could legitimately share a drink with a lobbyist over such legislation. And maybe the Great Partisan Divide in Congress will grow a little narrower when the three parties discover how good it feels to be both doing their jobs and some good for the commonwealth at the same time.