A jobs bill Trump might actually pass

Rick Newman
Columnist

Maybe President Trump should think smaller.

With his administration roiled by controversy, and tax-cut or healthcare legislation months if not years away, there’s little sign of anything Trump can declare as a win. But there might be, if he slightly retooled his agenda.

“As Trump is traveling the world doing foreign affairs, all of the economic teams should get together and do a small-business piece of legislation,” Karen Mills, former head of the Small Business Administration under President Obama, tells Yahoo Finance in the video above. “He’ll love it, because he wants to help small business, and small business tends to be a bipartisan issue.”

Business confidence jumped after Trump got elected, since the tax cuts and deregulation he promised would directly help the bottom line of many companies, big and small alike. But small-business optimism has wobbled lately, as Trump’s momentum has slowed and it has begun to seem that Congress won’t pass major legislation until next year, if ever. You can see the Trump jump in this chart of small-business optimism, followed by a plateau:

Source: National Federation of Independent Business, Moody’s Analytics

A bill benefiting “job creators,” as Republicans like to call them, could include targeted tax breaks, a rollback of regulations that constrain community banks, and a provision requiring the feds to direct a percentage of contracts to firms below a certain size. “You could call it the Small Business Growth Act of 2017,” says Mills, now a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. “There are a lot of people in Congress who would really jump on this.”

There’s no such bill in the works, and Trump has signaled a preference for sweeping, landmark legislation rather than targeted, piecemeal efforts. But the big bills he backs on tax cuts and the repeal of Obamacare will be hard to pass, and perhaps impossible, if he continues to ignite controversy and alienate fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill. Trump has also signed a series of more limited executive orders, which could be another way to lend Main Street a hand–should he feel so inclined.

Confidential tip line: rickjnewman@yahoo.com

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Rick Newman is the author of four books, including Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman.