Early April saw a glimpse of bipartisanship in the passage of the STOCK and JOBS Acts. The JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act, aims to foster entrepreneurship and small business growth as it relaxes regulation for firms entering the public market. The STOCK Act tightens regulation, preventing members of Congress from trading on insider information. “Bipartisanship often survives not because people are feeling good or feeling civil, but because it’s in the interest of both parties to play ball at something,” said Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University in New Jersey in the wake of this unfamiliar legislative success.
We have spent a lot of time talking about what is wrong in Washington, huffing and puffing about gridlocked legislation. The passage of the JOBS and STOCK Acts in the midst of this political climate is evidence enough that we should spend more time analyzing what legislation has been passed and try to recreate that perfect storm.
I began to think of a few characteristics of Gridlock “immune” legislation. I would love input as to this method of addressing our defined problems in Washington and whether you think any of these characteristic common in successful legislation.
1. Items that are have less visibility, causing less discussion
Whereas Healthcare and Budget reform are very visible issues and have potential to anger political bases, the STOCK Act and JOBS Act are focused on less contentious issues.
2. Issues involving people’s faith in elected officials
The STOCK Act is a great example of this. Passed in March, it bars members of Congress and staff from trading stocks based on nonpublic information obtained in their work.
3. PR-savvy name
As discussed in an earlier blog by Matthew Chase, bills with names like “The Violence Against Women Act” and “No Child Left Behind” are hard for members to vote against. Again, in a time when our economy is so volatile, voting against “JOBS” might not be in one’s best political interest.
4. Strategic sponsor
Senator Joe Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, sponsored the STOCK Act is an exemplar of bipartisanship in congress and is a political actor that Republicans and Democrats alike can organize behind.