Preventing Wall Street’s Latest Sucker-Punch

Mercifully, the misnamed JOBS Act did not sail through the Senate yesterday as expected. The Republican-sponsored “bipartisan” act is a Wall Street wish list of exemptions from investor protections that would allow some 80 percent of new stock offerings to avoid the usual disclosures. Except for its Orwellian, contrived acronym (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) JOBS has nothing to do with jobs. More likely, it stands for Just Obfuscate with B.S.

The bill would even undo the Sarbanes-Oxley rules, enacted after the Enron scandal, prohibiting “stock analysts” from touting shares in order to help investment bankers get underwriting business.

The Obama White House, always eager to curry favor with Wall Street donors and looking for something it could claim as bipartisanship, indicated it would sign the bill. Shame. With that signal, the measure sailed through the House with only 23 Democrats voting against. Shame again.

Finally, the chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mary Schapiro, no Bolshevik, sent around a letter warning that this bill was outrageous. Consumer groups mobilized. Senators Jack Reed, Carl Levin, and Mary Landrieu proposed amendments restoring investor protections.

Those amendments narrowly failed yesterday but were sufficient to slow down the train. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who had been a supporter, postponed action.

Senate Democrats should do what’s necessary to kill this appalling bill, including a filibuster. The problem in recent years with regulation of Wall Street abuses has been too little, not too much. And Obama, on behalf of the 99 percent, should get out his veto pen.

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