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Patent Reform in Name Only

September 12, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Congress has a funny way of handling things sometimes. There's a jobs crisis? I know, lets pass a "jobs bill." The health care system sucks? How about a new "healthcare reform bill?" The financial sector is too big and interconnected? I know, let's pass a "financial reform bill." It's as if passing bills is more important to them than solving the problems.

Such is the case with the patent reform bill that the Senate passed last week and is now awaiting Obama's signature. Obviously, the patent system is totally broken. It's a system that was established under the Constitution to get inventors to share their ideas so that others could build on them and innovate. But it has turned into a massive scam, supporting shadow companies that don't make anything but hoard the rights to ideas so they can sue companies that do make things. These companies are commonly referred to as "patent trolls," and they are bad for innovation and bad for jobs. Yet the patent reform bill that is about to be passed into law doesn't do anything about them.

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In the debate over immigration reform, Republicans have generally stuck to a few basic principles over the years. Improve enforcement of the borders, deport all undocumented immigrants, and refocus the immigration system to prioritize people with needed skills. But recently, Republicans in Congress have been moving more and more solidly behind a more radical idea -- denying legal citizenship status to the children who are born in the U.S. of undocumented immigrants.

Sen. Lindsey Graham [R, SC], one of the only Republicans who has engaged with Democrats in comprehensive immigration reform talks, recently came out in support of repealing birthright citizenship protections. “People come here to have babies," Graham said last week in an interview with Fox News. “They come here to drop a child." Graham's endorsement of repealing birthright citizenship was quickly followed up by the two highest ranking Republicans in the Senate. Minority Whip Sen. Jon Kyl [R, AZ] endorsed the idea on Sunday and Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell [R, KY] called for hearing on the issue the next day.

In the House, 94 Republicans, more than half of the House Republican Caucus, have signed on as co-sponsors to the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2009, which states that only children who have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen, a legal permanent resident, or an undocumented immigrant serving in the military can be granted citizenship.

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Financial Reform Amendment Voting Begins

May 5, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Remember last week when Senate Republicans filibustered beginning debate of the financial reform bill three times in three days over objections to a liquidation fund that they said would be used in the future for bailouts? Well, the fund was officially removed on Wednesday by a an overwhelming vote of 93-5. That makes everyone happy -- the Republicans who called it a bailout, the banks who didn't want to pay into it, and the Democrats who didn't really care much about it and would rather have Republican cooperation.

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More On The Health Care Timeline

March 2, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Voting on health care before the Easter recess has two benefits. First, there's the hope that some Republicans may give up on obstructing the bill – possibly by offering hundreds of politically tricky amendments – so as to not cut into their break. And should health care pass, Democrats could go home to their districts with a major legislative victory under their belts.

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While health care reform moves to the back rooms for now, Congress is hoping to take floor action on a number of jobs-related bills this week including a temporary extension for unemployment benefits (H.R.4691) that was single-handedly blocked by Sen. Jim Bunning [R, KY].

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