Driving the Day: 3/28/12
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House Approves JOBS Act, Sends to Obama – The Hill
The House approved the final, Senate-passed version of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act on Tuesday. The bill, H.R. 3606, was approved with a single Senate amendment that requires stricter reporting requirements for companies that obtain capital from “crowdfunding.” This legislation, if signed by Obama, eases some regulations on small businesses by creating a new class of companies labeled as “emerging growth companies” that will receive relaxed rules under the SEC.
Justice Kennedy Tough on the Insurance Mandate – National Journal
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, generally seen as a swing vote on the health care case, offered some tough questions for the Obama administration at Tuesday’s hearing. “Can you create commerce in order to regulate it?” Kennedy asked in his opening question. He didn’t state a definite opinion, but he seemed concerned that a court decision to uphold the individual mandate requiring all Americans to obtain health insurance might open the door for a broadening of Congress’s power. The four justices appointed by Democratic presidents seemed sympathetic to the government’s defense of the individual mandate, while the other justices seemed to stand by the challengers. In today’s session, the Court turns to the question of what it will do if the mandate is struck down, as well as other separate constitutional issues with the law.
EPA Emission Rules to Effectively Ban New Coal Plants – Investors.com
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) effectively banned new coal-fired plants, announcing emission rules that will make them uneconomical to build. The proposed rules state that no new plant can emit more than 1,000 pounds of carbon per megawatt generated; the typical coal plant produces more than 1,700 pounds, while gas-fired plants emit a reported 800-850 pounds. Some believe the new rules belie the administration’s claim to have an “all of the above” energy strategy, negatively impacting the coal industry and raising costs for consumers. The administration is also expected to produce regulations for the natural gas extraction process.
Consumer Concerns Shift From Jobs to Gas Prices – The Wall Street Journal
Rising oil costs are becoming a more dominant consumer concern, leading to a drop in consumer confidence in March, according to the producer of the Consumer Confidence Index, the Conference Board. Consumers think labor markets are improving, but high energy costs are driving concerns about inflation. High gasoline prices mean consumers have less money for other spending, something that could hurt hiring plans for non-energy companies. If energy prices increase the U.S. unemployment rate, it could hurt consumer confidence and shift concerns back to the jobs market.
U.S. exports to China rose 542% since 2000 to over $100 billion for the first time, with 30 states counting the country as one of their top three export markets, according to a report by the U.S.-China Business Council. The report shows that China ranks only behind Canada and Mexico, which have long-standing free trade agreements with the United States. Top exports to China last year included agricultural products, computers and electronics, chemicals, and transportation equipment. Despite the increase in exports, the U.S. share of imports in China has fallen to 7% from 10% in 2000. The report suggests that policymakers can bolster U.S. trade to China by expanding capacity and resources for the foreign commercial service, which will help small and medium exporters for more opportunities. The group is also urging reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.
In other news…
Job Growth Expected from Cheap Natural Gas – USA Today
Revamping the Entrepreneurship Curriculum – Businessweek