Mar 202012
 

Ever notice how all the dysfunctional wrangling in D.C. stops the minute our politicians need to do the 1 percent’s bidding?

When it comes to taking away your rights as an investor, consumer or citizen, politicians who can’t seem to agree on anything else seem to work together fine.

The latest proof that “bipartisanship” is a cynical gimmick is the so-called JOBS act, passed by the House with bipartisan support and now under consideration by the Senate, with the blessing of President Obama.

In this case, the bill’s original Republican sponsors came up with the idea of packaging a collection of measures that would weaken investor and consumer protections by the acronym JOBS, which stands for Jumpstart Our Business Startups.

After all, who could be against JOBS? Most Democrats in the House were happy to sign on – only 23 voted against it. Even Democratic representatives Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters voted for it.

Maybe these politicians thought the JOBS branding and the bipartisan marketing would conceal what the bill really was – the latest of several disastrous bills dismantling sensible financial regulation.

The JOBS act is the ugly stepchild of the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Billey Act repealing the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, which kept banks from mingling federally-guaranteed banking activities from riskier activities, and the 2000 Commodities Futures Modernization Act, a Frankenstein bill that kept credit default swaps deregulated and led to the Enron scandal in 2001.

Both pieces of legislation contributed directly to the 2008 financial collapse.

In the case of the JOBS act, it would gut many of the accounting reforms contained in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which was passed in the wake of the Enron debacle. The JOBS act would exempt emerging companies worth up to $1 billion from disclosure, reporting and governance rules. It would allow such companies to operate for 5 years without regulatory oversight.

John Coffee, securities law professor at Columbia University Law School, says it could be more accurately described as the “boiler room legalization act” because it would allow companies to raise money from small investors on the Internet, without any regulatory supervision, evoking the small operations that sold dubious investments over the phone using high-pressure tactics.

Arthur Levitt, former head of the SEC, told San Francisco Chronicle columnist Kathleen Pender the bill was “a disgrace.”

In a scathingly sarcastic column in the New York Times, Pro Publica’s Jessie Eisenger wrote: “Nigeria shouldn’t be the only country to benefit from the Web. Right here in America, the elderly are increasingly attractive to a variety of entrepreneurial spirits. If JOBS becomes the law, such innovators could flourish.”

Barbara Roper, the Consumer Federation of America’s director of investment protection suggested that “Republicans cannot believe they have suckered the Democrats into taking up their idea that deregulation is the way to promote job growth.”

I don’t think the Democrats got suckered. I think they know exactly what they’re doing. President Obama has been struggling in his fundraising because Wall Street and the big-money donors have lost their enthusiasm for him this electoral cycle.

But he’s showing signs of bouncing back, after his campaign manager, Jim Messina, issued a pledge that the president would stop demonizing Wall Street. In February, the president went on a fundraising blitz, raising $45 million, up from $29 million the previous month.

But it’s still far less than the $56 million he raised during the same month in 2008, when he was fighting Hilary Clinton in a bruising primary campaign. The president and his party have to deliver for their funders, and the JOBS act is a perfect gift to show the big donors what they can expect for their generosity.

But they all must take us for a bunch of clods if they think we can’t tell the difference between a nasty attack on our rights and real jobs promotion.

Call your senator today and remind them you can’t be fooled by an acronym.  Suggest you know how to spell jobs, and this awful piece of legislation doesn’t.

 

About Martin Berg

Martin Berg, WheresOurMoney.org editor, is a veteran journalist.

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