Posts Tagged ‘JOBS Act’

“The JOBS Act: Just Offer BS”

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

By Emily Theroux

Two weeks ago, House Republicans made alphabet soup by stirring the unemployment crisis into their own hearty stew of Orwellian Newspeak. In the interim, between the passage of the 2012 “JOBS” Act in the House and the defeat of the thin gruel that detractors swapped out for it during yesterday’s Senate vote, enough lawmakers refused to eat the nasty stuff that the bill has now become a nondescript porridge that nobody wants to taste.

After the House passed the “JOBS” Act in a bipartisan vote of 390-23, President Obama urged the Senate to follow suit. During an election year, after all, who could oppose the first jobs legislation widely supported on both sides of the aisle of a contentious Congress? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Chuck Schumer led the bill’s Democratic cheering squad, but others feared the measure would scuttle regulatory protections for investors, particularly elderly people targeted by scam artists. The bill’s detractors offered a variation that proved more palatable to labor leaders, consumer advocates, securities experts, and pension fund managers. The watery broth that resulted made a splashy mess all over the Senate floor in a 55-44 defeat.

Shades of Eric Cantor! Can’t you just smell the piquant aroma of ambiguous right-wing talking points? The bill’s guarded family recipe calls for a teaspoon of feigned regard for the kitchen-table concerns of ordinary Americans, a pinch of  “small business” demagoguery, and a dollop of pandering about “job-killing regulations.” Simply whisk this equivocal mumbo-jumbo into a stockpot simmering with doctrinaire anti-regulatory fervor, and voila! Gumbo’s on!

The result is the 2012 JOBS Act, an unsavory dish that has proven relatively easy for Republicans to disguise as cooked to order by “job creators” – and for Democrats with campaign-dollar signs in their eyes to gag down. Forbes speculated about whether the bill might unleash fraud. New York Times columnist Gail Collins thought “JOBS” could really stand for the “Just Open Bucket Shops” Act. Democratic Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, who declined to endorse the bill after Cantor, the House Majority Leader, sucked up to him, quipped, “I call it ‘Just Old Bills.’” But Robert Kuttner of The American Prospect, appearing on a “Countdown” segment, came up with the pithiest translation: “Just Offer BS.”

While the legislation promises to create jobs by removing that standard right-wing bogeyman, “burdensome regulations” – which its proponents claim prevent generously defined “small” business start-ups from going public – its detractors remain suspicious of its ingenious conservative acronym: J.O.B.S., which stands for “Jump-start Our Business Start-ups.” A recent New York Times editorial says the so-called “jobs” bill won’t create jobs; another points out that “reams of Congressional testimony, market analysis and academic research have shown that regulation has not been an impediment to raising capital.” If passed, the JOBS Act might well encourage the same type of frontier regulatory fiasco that led to the dot-com crash, the Enron debacle, and the mortgage meltdown, which ultimately caused massive unemployment.

In the “reality-based world,” this transparent Republican ploy doesn’t fly. Through the right-wing looking glass, however, words and phrases are easily twisted into a brand of doublespeak that turns the meaning of language on its head. Those evil geniuses who sit around in conservative think tanks and brainstorm the right wing’s ubiquitous dog-whistle code words really outdid themselves this time. If I had been a fly on the wall in one of those erstwhile “smoke-filled rooms” when the JOBS Act was being concocted, this is the kind of prattle I would have expected to hear:

“Let’s see … the Democrats keep ragging us about not passing a single piece of jobs legislation after we made jobs our campaign centerpiece in 2010 so we could swamp the House with Tea Party patriots. The lefties piss and moan that we’ve spent the past couple of years subduing immoral women, dumping geezer freeloaders from the cushy ‘social safety net,’ badgering lazy slobs who would rather be couch potatoes than get off their fat duffs and find a job, exposing welfare queens, blaming the ‘Democrat Party’ for increasing the national debt (and by the way, what’s that baloney about paying off debts we ran up last year? Oh, right – we’ve voted to raise the damn debt ceiling every time the president’s been one of ours, but far be it from any of us to say so), and tagging that uppity socialist Barack Obama with destroying America’s Triple A credit rating (don’t blame us – Mitt said it first!). So let’s pass a bill that secretly gets rid of even more regulations and guts SarBox (that’s what us conservatives call the Sarbanes-Oxley Act). Billion-dollar IPOs? No problem. Just call ’em ‘Mom & Pop start-ups.’ Then we can palm it off on the Dems as a ‘jobs bill’ by coming up with a wicked-cool acronym that hides what’s really in there. So what if ‘Jump-start Our Business Start-ups’ sounds a little forced? The true believers will decode our cues, Obama will chug it to improve his poll numbers, and the huddled masses will never know the difference.

“The real kicker is that almost every last one of those hungry House Dems is gonna swallow our hype whole. They can already taste the fear of those thundering attack ads sabotaging Independents’ brains come September. Now that I think of it, throw a few stones in that ‘crock’-pot, Mr. Cantor, and call it Lobster Bisque!”