News digest: Jobless taxes, FDA regulation, new SBA program


Unemployment tax plan pushes burden to employers.

Republicans and business groups are opposing a White House proposal to help debt-burdened states repay an estimated $42 billion to the federal government by raising unemployment-insurance taxes, the Wall Street Journal reported. President Barack Obama’s proposal would raise the level of wages subject to unemployment taxes to $15,000 from $7,000 currently, while cutting in half the federal rate for those taxes so that total federal revenue wouldn’t change. States wage caps would rise to the same level, allowing them to collect more unemployment tax revenue from employers. But businesses said the measure would discourage them from adding new workers to their payrolls.

 FDA regulations might discourage innovation.

In its effort to protect the American public from unsafe medical devices with strict regulations, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration might be stifling innovation. The FDA’s lengthy approval process is keeping some medical device innovators and investors out of the game because it means a lower return on investment, the New York Times reported. The result is fewer new medical devices developed in the United States and some resulting business closings. In 2010, the agency granted 19 pre-market approvals, down from 48 a decade earlier, the article said.   With criticism mounting,  the FDA announced Tuesday its innovation pathway,” a priority review program for breakthrough medical devices. While the FDA has accepted one pilot product, it plans to seek public comment before rolling out the program. Buy don’t look for the FDA to loosen standards to compete with Europe,  because it won’t compromise safety,  an  FDA official told the New York Times.  

SBA targets community-based lenders.

To increase the number of loans available to small businesses in underserved communities, the U.S. Small Business Administration will launch its Community Advantage program Tuesday. The new initiative will open the SBA loan program to Community Development Financial Institutions, SBA’s Certified Development Companies and nonprofit micro-lending intermediaries, the agency said. At the same time, the SBA announced a streamlined application process for preferred lenders and Community Advantage lenders that make SBA 7(a) loans of up to $250,000. Community-based organizations interested in becoming Community Advantage lenders should contact the SBA.

Compiled by Hallie Busta