Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Reason #148: Grading on a Curve

A few times now (notably yesterday), I've made a point of touting government actions that were of questionable, or negligible, practical benefit because of how they would be perceived. That's all well and good, but today I want to take a tiny step in the opposite direction.

Up for a vote in the House today is something called the JOBS Act. It sounds like a bigger deal than it actually is, at least according to many House Democrats, including Barney Frank and Steny Hoyer. Calling it the "Just Old Bills Act", Hoyer suggested that the bill is nothing but a handful of old Democratic ideas that happened to pass muster with Republicans, and therefore might as well get lumped together in a done-in-one kind of deal.

And sure enough, the bill seems to focus more or less entirely on relaxing regulations and SEC restrictions for small businesses, which is usually the Republicans' kind of thing. Though Obama gave the bill his blessing last night, and it will likely pass in the House with a healthy margin, a procedural vote this morning setting the terms of the bill's debating period only got 17 Democratic votes - in other words, we have no huge issue with this bill, but we're not done grumbling about it yet.

As you'd expect from a guy who's retiring after this year, Barney Frank was one of the more outspoken grumblers, saying that while it's "a perfectly nice bill", Republicans were trying to spin it as a bigger deal for them than it really was, because expectations for Congress are so low this year that any accomplishment is graded "on a curve" by the public.

That's all totally true, but we are talking about people's livelihoods here. I don't pretend to be so fiscally informed as to know which regulations are worth relaxing and which SEC rules are unnecessary or ill-applied, but even with Republicans having ventured so far off into the deep end this year, anything that both they and the Dems can get behind at this point is worth getting done - regardless of who gets the credit.

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