During his 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to spur economic development in rural areas through two specific programs -- one to hand out out small, "micro-enterprise" loans to rural small businesses, and another to give a 20 percent tax credit on up to $50,000 in investment in qualifying small businesses in rural areas.
Obama successfully implemented the first of those programs, but he failed to enact the second.
A program to distribute micro-loans through the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program ended up being enacted during the 2008 presidential campaign as part of that year's farm bill. The farm bill is a large bill typically approved by Congress every five years to update and modify agricultural policy.
The most recent farm bill was passed in 2014, and it extended the existing micro-loan program for the rest of the Obama presidency and into the Donald Trump presidency.
Under the micro-loan program, the Agriculture Department provides loans and grants to "microenterprise development organizations" to support businesses with 10 or fewer employees to launch or expand their operations. The loans typically run from $5,000 to $50,000. From the start of Obama's tenure through 2014, the program lent $52 million to 257 rural small businesses, the department said. The longer-term cost for the government is significantly smaller -- $3 million a year -- since the loans are eventually counted as revenue in the federal budget once they are repaid.
The 2014 farm bill also extended the Intermediary Relending Program, which was not specifically mentioned in Obama's 2008 promise but attacks a similar challenge. This program lends money to nonprofits and public entities; in turn, they re-lend the funds to rural businesses that might not otherwise be able to obtain financing.
The effort to enact Obama's promised 20 percent tax credit was not successful.
A version of this initiative -- called the Rural Microbusiness Investment Credit Act -- was introduced by Reps. Ron Kind, D-Wis., and Wally Herger, R-Calif., in 2011, but it did not advance.
Ultimately, Obama succeeded with the first half of this promise but failed on the second half. We rate it a Compromise.