With 14 million Americans out of work and the president’s jobs
proposal dead in the water, the administration appears to be pinning its hopes on smaller initiatives — both in size and focus.
Steve Case, one of 27 business leaders on President Obama’s Jobs Council, says he hopes Congress will soon take up legislation based on the committee’s recommendations, with a big focus on helping small businesses thrive.
“We really have to do this, and it needs to get done quickly,” said Case, the former chief executive of AOL. “I don’t think there’s a Plan B.”
The defeat of Obama’s $445 billion jobs bill earlier this month has raised the level of urgency for action, but Case says it has
also provided a new opportunity to focus on small business and entrepreneurship.
“The jobs act is being chopped up into smaller bills,” he said. “Now it’s about taking specific components of that focus on small business and entrepreneurship and see those through.”
The council’s report calls for granting automatic green cards to highly skilled foreign students, eliminating capital gains taxes on investments less than $25 million and easier access to Small Business Administration loans.
“The devil is in the details,” he said. “There is growing recognition that jobs and the economy are the main event right now, but the next piece of this is drumming up bi-partisan support.”
In the last week, Case has met with Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) to discuss the council’s recommendations. Case says he will continue to meet with congressional leaders and others to help build a consensus around a plan.
“There are three balls out there — one in the administration’s court, another in the private sector’s court and a third that’s waiting on Congress.”
On another front, the Kauffman Foundation has its own set of recommendations. Two weeks ago, Sen. James Moran (R-Kan.) introducted the group’s Start-Up Act in Congress.
There are a few key differences between the two sets of recommendations, said Robert Litan, the foundation’s vice president of resarch and policy. For one, the Start-Up Act calls for a more expansive visa program for foreign entrepreneurs, Litan said. It also calls for broader capital gains tax exemptions for early-stage companies.
Even so, Litan says there are many similarities between the two proposals.
“Just by happenstance, a number of these ideas were presented by the president’s jobs council earlier this month,” he said, adding that the foundation has not had any contact with Obama’s job council.
What happens next, though, is up to Congress and the Obama administration.
“The idea is getting picked up. It’s in the public domain and I think it’s getting traction,” Litan said. “Where it goes from here is out of our hands.”