Lead by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Republicans have set high marks trying to steer the country back down the road of fiscal responsibility. This next week will test the Republican Leadership’s resolve.
That’s because lobbyist for big banks and financial services companies are pressing the Leadership to fast track Patent Reform legislation. Tucked inside the bill is an insidious provision that undermines the very reason we have a patent system at all.
Section 18, authored by Sen. Chuck Schumer, would allow big banks – the recipients of billions in bailout money – to retroactively attack patents held by small businesses and inventors. It’s another bankster giveaway that must be yanked from the bill before it is considered for action.
But just as critically, the legislation moves the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) out of the world of discretionary spending and into the world of mandatory government spending. Budget Committee Chairman Ryan and his counterpart on the Appropriations Committee, Hal Rogers, are strongly fighting the move.
In a letter to the House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith – a champion of the legislation – Ryan and Rogers are calling the legislation fiscally irresponsible.
“We Strongly oppose this proposed shift of billions in discretionary funding and fee collections to mandatory spending. Putting PTO funding on auto-pilot is a move in exactly the wrong direction, given the new Republican majority’s commitment to restraining spending, improving accountability and transparency, and reducing the nation’s unparalleled deficits and debt.
“Placing PTO spending on mandatory auto-pilot as outlined in H.R. 1249 would also hand the Congressional ‘power of the purse’ – bestowed in the Constitution – to the Obama White House and essentially eliminate the ability of Congress to perform substantive oversight of the PTO. We strongly oppose undermining these critical efforts, particularly when House Republicans have pledged to strengthen oversight of federal agencies to ensure resources are being used wisely and appropriately, and to prevent federal agencies from over-stepping their authority.”
Ryan and Rogers make it clear, moving Patent Reform as written would undermine Republican’s commitment to fiscal responsibility and should be delayed.
Republicans are skating on thin ice. Whether they move patent reform legislation is a test for their resolve both to fiscal responsibility and whether they can say no to big money lobbyists.