This may sound a bit hard to believe, but I predict we will see genuine bipartisan legislation in Congress this year that will do wonders to revive economic growth and create jobs -- even though bipartisanship is an endangered species in Washington, and even though this is an election year. Miracles do happen, and we are going to see one.
Several bills backed by Republicans and Democrats would rejuvenate the spirit of entrepreneurship - creative people taking risks to bring new products and ideas to market. This is our country's strong suit, and a critical element in our economy. Research by the Kauffman Foundation indicates that firms less than five years old have produced 40 million jobs over the past three decades, essentially accounting for all of the new jobs created in that period.
But over the past five years, new startups are down 23 percent, and firms that are being launched are adding fewer new jobs than in earlier years. Public offerings have fallen. Part of this is due to the overall weakness in the economy, but at the same time entrepreneurs are finding that raising capital and finding talent are much more challenging than in years past. And as the creative spirit ebbs on our home shores, it is picking up among our foreign competitors.
Now many people in and out of government are laying concrete plans to reclaim our leadership in entrepreneurship. One entrepreneur, Steve Case, founder of AOL, has championed this cause in many forums, including on President Obama's Council on Jobs and Competiveness. The Startup Act, conceived by the Kauffman Foundation, was introduced by Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Jerry Moran (R-KS). The Agree Act, which stands for The American Growth, Recovery, Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Act, was offered by Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Marco Rubio (R-FL). These bills focus primarily on using the tax code to stimulate investment and growth. Among the ideas are: a three-year extension of 100 percent bonus depreciation for qualified investments; a three-year extension of Section 179 expensing levels; an extension of the R&D tax credit; raising the Alternative Simplified Credit (ASC) from 14 to 20 percent and making it permanent; an enhanced research credit to encourage job creation; and special credits to veterans who aspire to launch new idea and enterprises
Other provisions would amend Sarbanes-Oxley to make it easier for high growth companies to go public, and make it easier for foreign-born entrepreneurs, mathematicians and engineers to launch companies in the U.S.
Entrepreneurship is a core value that both parties can agree on, and these proposals promise to evoke enthusiastic support on both sides of the aisle, and in the White House. It sounds strange, I know, but we could actually see some positive action in Washington to encourage entrepreneurship.
Jerry Jasinowski, an economist and author, serve d as President of the National Association of Manufacturers for 14 years and later The Manufacturing Institute. Jerry is available for speaking engagements.