Wyden Tries To Get Anti-ACTA/TPP Amendments Included In JOBS Act Vote
from the won't-happen dept
There’s a lot of talk about how the Senate is likely to approve the JOBS Act today with a procedural plan put in place by Harry Reid that limits the ability for any real amendments to be debated or discussed. Unfortunately, the JOBS Act has been more controversial than it should be, based on some misinformation being spread about how it’s somehow dismantling all investor protections from Sarbanes Oxley.
The fact is, this is a situation where the original rules clearly went too far in requiring onerous regulations on businesses that didn’t actually do much to stop fraud and abuse, but did make it prohibitively expensive for many good companies to go (or stay) public. There should be a middle ground that is not the “anyone can go public based on hype” days of the late 90s, and the much more limited public markets we have today. The JOBS Act may go a bit too far in raising the ceiling for the IPO “on ramp” to $1 billion in sales, but it’s not the free for all that some have made it out to be. It gives companies more time to meet full (expensive) Sarbanes Oxley compliance, but opponents make it out like in these five years, companies will just completely make up their financial documents (even knowing that they’ll face a reckoning when the on-ramp is over). Making the on-ramp slightly smaller probably would have made sense (and there was an attempt to do that, which appears to be dead in the water), but this is a case where you have a basic trade-off. Yes, you can add regulations to public companies, but it means you’ll have fewer public companies, and less money to spend on creating jobs. That’s a real trade-off, and one where those advocating specific plans do need to recognize the costs and the benefits.
Separately, there are many other features of the JOBS Act that make plenty of sense — such as allowing small businesses to make use of crowdfunding. Currently, crowdfunding is possible for pre-sales or donations, but not in exchange for equity. Yes, there is risk involved, but there are some limits here, and to some extent, people should learn to understand the basic risks of what they’re investing in before they do so anyway. These crowdfunded operations aren’t going to be giant companies dealing with Wall Street for the most part, so the talk of how this helps Wall Street is mostly bogus.
That said, because of the political process that will get this through quickly, it appears that Senator Wyden won’t get to introduce two amendments he proposed, one of which would have made it clear that the US can’t agree to ACTA without Congressional approval, and a second that would have required the USTR to make its proposals public on international trade agreements. Hopefully, we’ll see those proposals turn up elsewhere.