Who says nothing can get done in an election year? Four senators — two from each party — are trying to buck the conventional wisdom with a carefully calibrated plan to encourage entrepreneurs and promote job creation.
Their bill, dubbed START-UP 2.0, draws on ideas traditionally supported by Republicans and advanced by President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. At a news conference Tuesday, the four co-sponsors — Democrats Mark Warner (Va.) and Chris Coons (Del.) and Republicans Mark Rubio (Fla.) and Jerry Moran (Kan.) — appeared with AOL co-founder Steve Case, a Jobs Council member, to urge their colleagues to rally behind common-sense ideas and take action.
“This is a collection of really good ideas,” said Rubio, who said he conceived of the package in discussion with Coons during a late night on the Senate floor. “On the things we agree on, we should do them.”
The measure seeks to build on the success of the JOBS Act, which is intended to help businesses gain access to capital. The measure was approved by a deeply divided Congress and signed by Obama in April.
The new bill would tackle more long-standing problems, with the goal of promoting the creation of new businesses. Research shows that for nearly three decades, companies less than five years old have created virtually all of the net new jobs in America, averaging about 3 million positions a year.
To that end, the measure would amend immigration law to make it easier for foreign students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to remain in the United States after graduation. It would also eliminate per-country caps for employment-based immigrant visas, long a complaint of U.S. firms seeking to recruit top-tier talent.
Other provisions include exempting from capital gains taxes the sale of stock in start-ups held for at least five years, and a new research and development tax credit targeted at start-ups less than five years old and with less than $5 million in annual receipts.
The bill is pocked with political landmines. Democrats, for instance, have long been loathe to clear the way for firms to hire more talented foreigners unless Republicans approve a path to citizenship for people already here illegally. But Warner and Moran said they have identified a number of supporters in the Senate and are recruiting co-sponsors in the House.
For the moment, however, they acknowledged that it’s not clear that political leaders in either party are eager to work with their opponents to advance legislation with the Nov. 6 election fast approaching.