Helping small businesses
"> But if tech keeps making the case that option reform is vital to new start-ups, it may find itself front and center in the discussion about tax reform. That "help small business" strategy got the bill through the House earlier this year. "I think the White House is more sensitive to the economic impact of stock options, says the securities lobbyist. That sensitivity could surface in a big way, particularly if the stock market keeps recovering while tech stocks continue to lag.Stock option reform could be most easily folded into the sweeping tax reform package the White House has put front and center on its Congressional agenda. The argument here, which the Bush Administration has already started to make, is that tax reform is necessary to help smaller, independent business people. If President Bush starts talkingenthusiasticallyabout "entrepreneurs," itll be a sign to look for stock option reform in this legislation.If that doesnt happentheres some talk tax reform will be pushed off to later in the year, perhaps not soon enough to undo FASBs rule-makingthere are still a variety of venues. Two other large bills, a "technical corrections" package to last years IRS reform, known as the "Jobs Act" and legislation authorizing spending on Iraq are also possible homes for stock option relief. Those would be sneaky back-room tricks, but they would push stock option reform past Republicans like Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). He and others might not like stock option reform, but they wont want to vote against other, higher-profile measures because of the political consequences. Oh, and theres a tradeoff here; dont think theres not. TechNets White predicts that the industry will weigh in heavily on another cause close to its heart: tort reform. Techs going to help on that, clearly. Its a natural affinity. But its also good politics. "The message came to the tech guys that they were going to have to swing a stick," and help legal reform pass. Attempts to change ways in which class action lawsuitsthink shareholder litigationare conducted only failed by one vote in the Senate this year, White notes. So if tech does its part the measure may well pass, White predicts. "I think thats a fairly easy lift," he says. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis of technologys impact on government and politics.