Obama's Signing Of JOBS Act Likely Won't Dim GOP Charge He's Anti-Jobs

Apr 5, 2012

President Obama signed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (or JOBS) Act into law Thursday, legislation meant to make it easier for entrepreneurs to get investor financing that helps them add workers. Does that mean it will be harder for Republicans to frame Obama as anti-jobs?

"Well, if it works, it will make it harder," said Craig Shirley, a longtime conservative political strategist and writer who runs a Washington, D.C.-area public-affairs firm.

But there isn't enough time between now and Election Day for the law to fully take effect: Regulators have 270 days to write some of the required new rules, for instance, and only 215 days are left before Nov. 6. So it's unlikely voters will have much evidence by then that the law is working, or not.

"It gives (Obama) something to hang his hat on," Shirley said. But there's no shortage of other economic issues for Republicans to go after the president on, he said. "Federal spending and its impact on the economy, taking money out of the private sector."

Over at Americans for Prosperity, the Washington, D.C.-based conservative advocacy group, vice president for policy Phil Kerpen agreed that from the Republican perspective, Thursday was more a momentary truce and that Obama's record would still provide plenty of targets.

"I think the criticisms the Republicans had of the president are so broad in scope and sort of go to the core of his whole philosophy of governance that I don't think they're affected by him doing one positive thing," Kerpen said.

Also, even though the new law is known by the acronym JOBS, and jobs are very much on the minds of voters, Kerpen didn't think the legislation was likely to become much of a factor with average voters.

"I don't know how interested most most people are in an issue like this," he said. "It's certainly not top-of-mind for most people sitting around the kitchen table, you know, 'How easy will it be for companies to access public capital markets?' "

If anything, Kerpen thought any political effect would likely be a wash since both sides could lay claim to the legislation.

"It's going to be hard for them to gain political advantage because this is something Republicans supported as well," he said. "What's the political pitch here from the president, that 'I can get something done?' I guess there's that.

"But this doesn't fit in neatly with his speech about how Republicans all want dirtier air and dirtier water and Down syndrome children to suffer and by the way, they had this great idea I signed the other day. I don't know if this is something he can use to great effect given that his political opponents supported as well."

The fact that the president and congressional Republicans were able to agree on not just the JOBS Act but the STOCK Act, which the president signed the day before, could lead some to believe that both were more about election-year politics than anything else, especially since critics have pointed to weaknesses in both.

The JOBS Act may open the door to financial scams, critics say, while the STOCK act has loopholes that could keep it from being effective in terms of preventing congressional insiders from benefiting financially from information they learn about industries and companies through doing their jobs as lawmakers or staff.

But Darrell West, who unlike Kerpen and Shirley is not a Republican strategist but instead heads the governance program at the Brookings Institution, thinks such suspicions of motives aren't fair.

"I think that's overly cynical," West said. "Each bill has some noteworthy provisions that will help to address the issues that they're seeking to deal with. They're not revolutionary pieces of legislation but they push the ball along in ways that are helpful.

"Especially on the JOBS Act. They specifically made some changes designed to encourage entrepreneurship. And we know that small and medium-sized businesses are the economic engine. So that's the part where we should feel most optimistic."

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