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Public Statements

Disapproving the Rule Submitted by the Federal Communications Commission with Respect to Regulating the Internet and Broadband Industry Practices

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SHELBY. Mr. President, I wish to associate myself with the remarks of the Senators from Texas and Mississippi and to say that I think a lot of people probably mean well but are often misguided when they say we are going to regulate this sector of the economy or we are going to regulate that.

The market, as you well know, is the driving force in our economy--not just in the United States but worldwide. It is going to be the market that will decide what we do as far as job creation for our people everywhere, and I believe the Internet is an example of, gosh, let's don't overregulate it. Let it grow, let it do its job, and it will.

I would also like to speak about some commonsense steps that Congress can take right now to help our struggling economy. At a time when job growth is stagnant, Congress needs to lift the regulatory burden that is stifling capital formation. The Senate has before it several bills that would help private businesses raise the capital they need to grow and to create jobs.

This is an issue that should enjoy the support of both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate. Access to capital, as the Presiding Officer well knows, is what allows entrepreneurs to transfer new ideas into living companies. Novel products, new services, and, most importantly, good jobs can be created.

Unfortunately, overregulation has made it progressively harder for small businesses to access capital in this country. I will give some statistics. They are clear.

In the 1990s, an average of 547 initial public offerings took place each year, compared with an average of just 192 per year after 1999. Small initial public offerings now make up only 20 percent of the total. In contrast, they made up 80 percent of the total in the 1990s, when we were creating so many small jobs.

In addition, the number of new businesses being launched each year is falling. In 2010, it was the lowest it has been since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking the number in 1994.

The SEC has been slow to address these problems, even though it has the authority to do so. The Chairman of the SEC has spoken of the need for action, but we have not seen tangible results yet.

One year ago, one SEC Commissioner remarked:

My hope is that, as an agency, the Commission will move beyond talking about small business capital formation and will take concrete steps that actually foster it.

I believe we, the Senate and the American people, can no longer wait for the SEC to do its job. The time has come for Congress to take action. Our economy cannot afford to wait any longer.

The first thing I believe we should do to improve capital formation is to bring up for consideration several bipartisan bills that would implement important regulatory reforms. One bill would modernize the SEC's regulation A, which was initially designed to make it easy for small businesses to access our capital markets. Unfortunately, regulation A is outdated and rarely used.

Another set of bills would raise the thresholds for reporting so small banks and small companies are not subject to burdensome SEC reporting requirements.

These bills would still leave investors protected and ensure that public companies provide meaningful disclosure. Most important, investors would still be protected by the SEC's antifraud rules. These bipartisan bills represent a few steps we can take right now, but they are not comprehensive by any means.

Much more needs to be done to make sure registration requirements are tailored to the size and type of businesses. The existing one-size-fits-all approach means that small companies have to bear the same costs that large companies do when they go public. These inequities need to be addressed; it stifles job creation.

One would think that we could agree in the Senate on removing unnecessary restrictions on capital formation. Yet for the past 3 years, the majority party has dramatically increased government involvement in the economy. They have imposed one costly mandate after another on businesses. They have crowded out the private sector with massive government programs, resulting in persistently high unemployment and stagnant economic growth.

Basically, I think it is time for a new approach. It is time to revitalize the free markets in America. We can begin this effort by taking these small steps to help entrepreneurs find the capital they need to build their businesses and to create jobs.

I hope my Democratic colleagues will now do more than talk about creating jobs and that we can work on a bipartisan basis on these bills that have bipartisan sponsorship to create jobs and join us here.


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