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The debate over the proposal has centered on whether taxpayers would be protected and whether banks that make these loans to small firms would lower their lending standards if the government promises to cover loans that go bad, according to participants present or briefed on the discussions. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the conversations were considered private.
Administration officials want to prevent small businesses from closing and adding their workers to the growing ranks of the unemployed. Some officials say small companies are key to reversing the soaring unemploy
Aiding small businesses could be a gamble because they have a poorer record than large corporations when repaying loans; it would be the riskiest government investment so far under the bailout plan.
"If we are going to move out of this recession and into recovery, it's going to be small businesses that leads us,"