President Obama requests up or down vote to shrink the size of government

Rachel Rose Hartman

President Obama on Friday requested Congress grant him authority to reduce the size of government for small business owners and others pending only an up-or-down vote from Congress.

"It's a mess. This should be easy for small business owners," the president said of the convoluted process he outlined that exists if small business owners wish to secure government resources. "We're supposed to make it easier for them. If Congress would reinstate the authority that previous presidents have had, we could fix this."

The last president to hold this fast-track authority, which prevents Congress from altering or amending plans, was Ronald Reagan. During his tenure, Reagan was stripped of the power.

President Obama's plan includes consolidating six agencies dealing with trade and commerce in a reorganization intended to make the government more responsive. The president, who has run into multiple roadblocks put up by congressional Republicans during his term said: "This should not be a partisan issue."

Many of the Republican presidential candidates are gaining traction by proposing shrinking the size of government. By asking for up-or-down authority, the president is suggesting that Congress has effectively freezed up his authority to  make that happen.

The president said he will immediately seek to elevate the Small Business Administration to a Cabinet-level position to give the administration its "own seat at the table."

House Speaker John Boehner and other congressional Republicans on suggested  the president is simply playing politics.

"Given the President's record of growing government, we're interested to learn whether this proposal represents actual relief for American businesses or just the appearance of it," Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said in a statement. Buck added, however, that they remain receptive to "eliminating duplicative programs" and streamlining the government. "We look forward to hearing more about his proposal."

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