Two U.S. Senators from different parties, coming together to present legislation aimed at creating jobs, should not be a novel idea. But in an increasingly polarized Washington, instances of bi-partisanship have become all too rare.
So when Senators Chris Coons, (D) Delaware, and Marco Rubio, (R) Florida, decide to collaborate on a jobs bill that emphasizes points of agreement rather than differences, it’s worth noting. Their initiative is called the American Growth, Recovery, Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Act (or AGREE for short), and it combined some ideas from both parties with others that come from President Obama’s jobs bill and the president’s jobs council.
While disagreements over the president’s American Jobs Act have dominated political discussions as of late, the AGREE Act may break new ground when it comes to bi-partisanship. And with both the president and the Republican presidential hopefuls shooting darts at Congress, the AGREE Act couldn’t have come at a better time.
Attiba Madyun, President of the Madyun Group, a Washington, D.C.-based government relations firm, thinks the idea of Democrats and Republicans coming together with a focused proposal is long overdue. He said, “Washington has been in a stalemate so it’s very forward thinking of these senators to team up from a bi-partisan standpoint.”
In a joint press release, Coons said, “We can dwell on the partisan politics that have gridlocked this body and this town for much of our first year in office, or we can look forward and find ways we can work together to help Americans confront this jobs crisis.”
The AGREE Act basically pushes business-friendly approaches that both sides see eye-to-eye on. The philosophy is simple: create a business-friendly environment that encourages small businesses to do what they do best, create jobs.
Among the ideas being proposed are measures that would:
*provide and strengthen tax breaks for small businesses
*give incentives for businesses that hire veterans
*enhance research credits for domestic manufacturers
*waive financial reporting requirements for small firms for first five years.
But the AGREE Act is not as comprehensive or robust as the American Jobs Act and does not have the same kind of safeguard measures that would help the most disadvantaged citizens.
Madyun said, “A lot of people want to make sure that while these laws take care of Wall Street, they look out for Main Street as well. The American Jobs Act has a lot of protections in there that will not only help businesses but also address the needs of struggling families as well. “
While there’s no word yet on whether the bill will reach the floor for a vote, Rubio said, “This kind of effort will be a real test of whether Washington has enough people who aren’t just willing to say they will work to find common ground but will actually prove it through their actions.”
That’s something on which Americans can all “AGREE.”
(Photo: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)