A job for lame-duck Congress

Tampa Bay Times - - Opinion -

We aren’t sure who ex­actly came up with the term “lame-duck Congress,” but then we also be­lieve it doesn’t much mat­ter. The Congress that’s meet­ing now likely won’t do much as the world waits for new mem­bers to be sworn in dur­ing Jan­uary and a new House ma­jor­ity to hand the speaker’s gavel to Nancy Pelosi of Cal­i­for­nia.

But the lame­ness of what Congress will likely do doesn’t take away from the fact that there is work that could be done. We would go so far as to say that there is good rea­son for Congress to con­vene be­yond the nor­mal spend­ing nec­es­sary to keep the gov­ern­ment lights on. Namely, there is a rare bi­par­ti­san op­por­tu­nity to en­act leg­is­la­tion that would lessen the bur­den small busi­nesses face when at­tempt­ing to cre­ate jobs in Amer­ica.

We un­der­stand that just about ev­ery eco­nomic re­form is jus­ti­fied un­der the rubric of help­ing the lit­tle guy in busi­nesses. But in this case, there is a set of re­forms on the ta­ble that would bol­ster small busi­nesses, which cre­ate two out of ev­ery three new jobs in this coun­try.

Here is what is hap­pen­ing: Ear­lier this year, Jeb Hen­sar­ling — the re­tir­ing Dal­las Re­pub­li­can who for a few more weeks will be chair­man of the House Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Com­mit­tee — shep­herded through the House a bill he calls JOBS 3.0. Like all things con­gres­sional, the bill is an ode to com­plex­ity and bu­reau­cratic-speak and could be im­proved. But over­all, the bill helps re­shape the reg­u­la­tory land­scape for small busi­nesses in such a way as to make it eas­ier for them to cre­ate more jobs that can em­ploy more Amer­i­cans.

The bill con­tains 32 mea­sures that cut red tape and pro­mote in­vest­ment, in­no­va­tion and ac­cess to cap­i­tal. One pro­vi­sion would make it eas­ier for peo­ple with lit­tle or no credit his­tory to ob­tain bank loans. An­other pro­vi­sion re­vises se­cu­ri­ties rules to help busi­nesses and in­vestors raise cap­i­tal. Other changes up­date old rules that make it dif­fi­cult and ex­pen­sive for com­pa­nies to go pub­lic.

But like many other good ideas, this one passed the House over­whelm­ingly and headed to the Se­nate, where it ap­pears headed for a quiet death. If there is go­ing to be a lame-duck Congress, the Se­nate should use part of its time to pass this bill. Do­ing so just might help mil­lions of mid­dle-class Amer­i­cans land a job, in­crease their pay, or oth­er­wise make per­ma­nent gains while this boom­ing econ­omy lasts.

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