As Congress begins negotiations this week on a fourth coronavirus stimulus bill, Steve Case, CEO of venture capital firm Revolution and co-founder of AOL, is making the case for supporting startups in a package that could put upwards of a trillion dollars into the economy.
"The first bills really did a good thing in terms of stabilizing existing businesses," Case told Cheddar. "Now the focus needs to be on startups, because startups actually create the jobs in this country, not small business, not big business, but young, new businesses."
While small businesses still make up the vast majority of jobs in the U.S., startups play a larger role in generating job growth, according to an analysis by the Congressional Research Service. Investing in these companies now will serve the economy in the long-run, he said.
Case, who outlined his argument over the weekend in a Washington Post op-ed, recommends that the new legislation allow those drawing employment benefits to take a larger chunk upfront if they promise to invest the money in a startup. He would also like to see startups getting a share of the billions currently going to large pharmaceutical companies to develop treatments and vaccines.
"We need to get capital to more people and more places," he said. "This phase four legislation will be an opportunity to do that by putting startups at the epicenter of that."
Outside of the stimulus, Case also endorsed a bill introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar in the spring that would create a fund within the Department of Treasury to boost entrepreneurship across the country.
Simply investing in startups isn't enough, he added. The venture capitalist would like to see a more diverse array of startups and founders benefit from the stimulus bill.
"We need to do better than normal because normal didn't work for a lot of people," he said. "There were a lot of people who were left out in the last decade because of what's happened in places like Silicon Valley."
That means investing in more women and Black-led startups, but it also means looking outside coastal startups hubs for possible investments.
"Obviously Silicon Valley is awesome and will continue to be awesome, but we need to make sure that we have a more inclusive innovation economy," he said.