WASHINGTON — Debate over how to create jobs has, unsurprisingly, become mired in the politics of 2012. But two lawmakers on Thursday offered what they say is a bipartisan solution.
Backed by data showing that most jobs are created by new businesses, Sens. Jerry Moran of Kansas, a Republican, and Mark Warner of Virginia, a Democrat, offered legislation that they say would make it easier for new companies to get off the ground and thrive by reducing regulations on new businesses and by making it easier for foreign-born graduates of American universities to work and start businesses in this country.
Their bill relies on research either produced or funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation of Kansas City, Mo., which promotes entrepreneurship, innovation and education. It found that companies less than five years old were responsible for nearly all of the net jobs created in the U.S. between 1980 and 2005.
"The bottom line is simple: Without startups there is no net job creation in this country," Brink Lindsey, a senior scholar at the foundation, said at a news conference with Moran and Warner in Washington.
Moran said the work of President Barack Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness contributed to the bill.
Steve Case, co-founder of AOL and a member of the council who attended the news conference, said the development of startup businesses dropped 23 percent over the past five years. Had they stayed at the level they were at in 2006, he said, "we'd have 2 million more jobs. This really is a key job creator."
House Republicans dismissed the council's idea when Obama unveiled it a year ago. Moran, who served seven terms in the House, said that he was eager to work with the White House.
"There are too many shots taken at too many people around here too often," Moran said. "That diminishes the chance of somebody's success. We want us all to come together and have success, not a for a Republican or Democrat victory, but for improving the lives of the American people."
Elected a year ago, Moran said the intense partisan atmosphere on Capitol Hill has made it difficult to find agreement on economic concerns. He said he hopes their bill, called the Startup Act, would avoid what he called the usual "political enmity."
"Congress must put into place policies that remove barriers and help entrepreneurs succeed, so new businesses can grow and put Americans back to work," he said.
A key effort of the legislation would be to change immigration laws to allow foreign-born students in technical fields to remain in this country so their skills could benefit the economy. Under current law, the visa system makes that an arduous hurdle.
Moran and Warner hope to create a new visa class for up to 50,000 foreign students who earned graduate degrees from American universities in science, technology, engineering or math. It also envisions a visa for up to 75,000 immigrant entrepreneurs who earned technical degrees in the United States and who create businesses that employ Americans.
"We have to win the world competition for the best and the brightest," said Warner, a former venture capitalist who made millions investing early on in Nextel. "For a long time anybody in the technical business has said, 'Let's staple a green card (on the diplomas) for people getting graduate degrees at our great American universities,'" in science, technology, engineering and math.
The Startup Act "would basically make that happen," Warner said.
The bill also would ease financial and other paperwork regulations on new business, which Moran called a "significant handicap," and would fast track federally sponsored, university-based research to bring products to the marketplace sooner.
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