Obama Signs Bipartisan Bill Aimed at Helping Small Businesses Raise Startup Funding

The Silicon Valley-backed JOBS Act includes investor protections for crowdfunding, the increasingly common practice of using the Internet to gather a number of capital investors for a project.

Marking a moment of rare bipartisan cooperation in divided Washington, President Obama on Thursday signed into law a measure meant to create jobs by helping small firms raise capital.

Obama was joined by one of his chief antagonists in Congress, House Majority leader Eric Cantor, and other lawmakers to sign the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act at the White House.

"This bill represents exactly the kind of bipartisan action we should be taking in Washington to help our economy," Obama said at a bill-signing ceremony in the White House Rose Garden.

"Our economy has begun to turn a corner, but we've still got a long way to go.

"We've still got a lot of Americans out there who are looking for a job or looking for a job that pays better than the one that they've got."

Cantor said the signing of the law is a "significant step" and added "we can't stop here."

"Republicans and Democrats need to continue working together to produce results for our nation's small-business owners and entrepreneurs," Cantor said.

Cooperation between the two parties on job-creating measures in an election year has been fleeting, however, with the two sides deeply split on the best economic policies to create growth.

Obama's political fortunes, as he seeks reelection, have been boosted in recent weeks by growing momentum in the economy and jobs growth that has taken the unemployment rate down to 8.3%.

The latest Labor Department figures on the unemployment rate are due on Friday.

The Silicon Valley-backed JOBS law was amended to include extra investor protections in crowdfunding, the increasingly common practice of using the Internet to gather a number of capital investors for a project.

With unemployment and the sluggish recovery key issues in his reelection bid, Obama earlier this year pushed for measures to aid small businesses and startup companies that create most of the new jobs in the U.S. economy.

A provision of the JOBS Act allows small enterprises to more easily go public if they wish, by stripping out certain accounting restrictions for newly public companies.

Such "emerging-growth companies" would enjoy relaxed rules under the Securities and Exchange Commission, and while this part of the bill can be seen as a reduction of transparency, it will make running a newly public company less expensive.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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