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JOBS Act: Why are Democrats suddenly raising red flags?

No one wants to vote against jobs, but a wide swath of critics – ranging from the SEC, the AFL-CIO, and pension funds – worry that features in the proposed JOBS Act could hurt investors.

By Staff writer / March 16, 2012



Washington

The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS) had everything going for it. It garnered more than 400 votes in the House of Representatives last week. It had the backing of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and was fast-tracked onto the Senate calendar by majority leader Harry Reid. President Obama, he of the veto pen, publicly expressed his support.

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And, of course, it had a politically bulletproof acronym: After all, who could vote against jobs?

But after a group of Democratic senators – and the Securities and Exchange Commission – scrutinized the bill, its race to the president’s desk has been impeded.

Democrats ultimately want the JOBS Act to pass, they insist, but they're looking for assurances that investors will be protected, especially those financing new businesses using social media and the Internet, or "crowdfunding."

“We’re not trying to kill the bill,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) of Louisiana on the Senate floor Thursday. “If [the bill is] not done right, it's going to ruin the best chance we’ve had in decades to get capital into the hands of businesses.”

Sens. Landrieu, Carl Levin (D) of Michigan, and Jack Reed (D) of Rhode Island are co-sponsoring an amendment to the bill, which will be up for debate when the Senate returns from recess on Monday. That represents at least a small delay for the JOBS Act, which Senator Levin said could be voted on as early as Thursday.

But Democrats’ rhetoric doesn’t sound like they’re out to institute a few constructive tweaks. In fact, they liken the JOBS Act to a regulatory rollback that all but ensures another round of fraud on a par with some of America’s biggest financial debacles.

The first shots were fired by Senate majority whip Richard Durbin (D) of Illinois in a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday.

“This half-boiled concoction of ill-conceived ideas skirts, evades, and nullifies investor protection in market transparency standards that were enacted in response to the dot-com crash, the Enron debacle, and the litany of bubbles and bursts that have cost legions of unsuspecting Americans their savings, their jobs, and their retirement,” Senator Durbin said.

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