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The decision, for Rep. Pat Tiberi (R – OH), was clear and simple: either he got bipartisan support for his bill or his bill would be pointless.
That’s what makes Tiberi, and all lawmakers involved in the creation of the Investing in Opportunity Act, so unique. Their insistence upon consensus in an age of polarization almost sounds old-fashioned, considering our modern climate. Indeed, coming from a Republican Congressman tucked cozily in a Republican-controlled House, the notion that bi-partisan support is vital may sound a little strange – crazy, even.
But this bill has a very big goal – revitalizing the pockets of America that have seen little to no economic resurgence since the Great Recession – and to accomplish that goal, Tiberi said he and his colleagues needed all the consensus they could get.
That’s why liberal Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) hopped onboard with the effort: because even though incentivizing private enterprises to boost economic investment in economically-distressed communities doesn’t totally jive with the Democratic Party’s penchant for government intervention, it is nevertheless an idea worth trying.
And when most of the loudest voices on the Left are screaming for total gridlock in Washington, such efforts are laudable.
“One of the things I historically knew, but certainly learned from my time in watching the Democrats in how they passed the Affordable Care Act, is that if you don’t historically have bipartisan buy-in, it’s much more difficult to sustain and have longterm support for a program,” Tiberi said in this week’s episode of OppCast.
To use a sports analogy, the bill in question would level the playing field for investment opportunities. For instance, let’s say there is a match-up between the New England Patriots, this year’s Super Bowl Champs, and the Jacksonville Jaguars, this year’s… well, let’s just say their record was not great this year. Given that the Patriots will surely trounce the Jaguars, anyone betting on the lesser team would expect a greater payout, right?
But in the world of investing, there is no such arrangement, no re-set corresponding reward for risk when choosing which communities to invest in, and so investors are dissuaded from putting their money in risky areas – like these economically-distressed pockets all across the country. With no incentive to invest in these areas, the communities continue on a downward trend, and the wealth gap yawns ever wider.
That’s where the Investing in Opportunity Act comes into play. The bill, as outlined a recent Forbes piece, would function in three key aspects:
-Establish “Opportunity Zones” in each state in which investors would be incentivized to deploy capital in new and small businesses
-Make it easier for investors to roll existing capital into “Opportunity Funds” that could be invested in early-stage businesses
-And encourage long-term investor commitments by eliminating capital gains for certain types of investments.
With so much money not being invested, so many opportunities not being leaped upon, it becomes clear why this bill, unlike so many others, has support across both sides of the aisle: it makes logical sense.
Still, with an increasing number of extreme voices in both parties appealing to our nation’s baser concerns, such an even-keeled bill may not survive the tumult.
“But we have to try,” Tiberi said, “and we’ll keep on trying no matter what.”
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