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Obama administration urges Congress to focus on business tax reform

[WASHINGTON] The Obama administration on Tuesday said it saw room for compromise with Congress on a potential overhaul of the business tax code, but a top Republican lawmaker said the two sides remained at loggerheads over taxes on small businesses.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew appeared before lawmakers to explain the White House budget proposal that would raise taxes on the wealthy and create new taxes on international companies to increase spending in areas like highways and education.

Much of that agenda has little chance of approval in the Republican-controlled Congress, but Mr Lew said business tax reform was an area ripe for a bipartisan deal.

"I believe, as does the president, that there is plenty of opportunity for bipartisan cooperation and a number of areas where we can find common ground to move our country forward, starting with business tax reform," Mr Lew said in testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee.

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But Paul Ryan, the Republican who chairs the committee, said the president's proposal does not do enough to help small businesses, particularly those that pay taxes through their owners' individual returns.

"It just doesn't go far enough," Mr Ryan said. "It just doesn't cut it."