Morning Briefing for June 14, 2011

RedState Morning Briefing

For June 13, 2011
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1. Bachmann, Gingrich, and Romney. Oh My! And Then There’s Rick Perry.

I think Mitt Romney did not just win the New Hampshire debate by holding his own, but legitimately won it with his answers and composure. He was unnecessarily defensive on the Afghan question, but largely showed his experience with Presidential debates.

The surprise last night was Michelle Bachmann. If there was a winner of the anti-Romney coalition, Michelle Bachmann not only one, but won by a wide margin. Suddenly, for many, the flirtation toward Herman Cain and others will go in Bachmann’s direction. Bachmann’s stellar performance also contrasted with Tim Pawlenty who could have sealed the deal, or taken substantial steps toward sealing the deal, of being the anti-Romney candidate. Had his backing off of “Obamneycare” been later in the debate, i think it would have done less damage. But coming so soon into the debate, it clouded the rest of his performance, which had some really good moments. His defense of “right to work” was stellar.

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2. Conservatives Must Oppose Patent ‘Reform’

Some issues are just boring. It seems as if every time they are brought up, collective eyes glaze over. Unfortunately, a lot of bad policies can escape the normal vetting process when that many people are that bored by an entire subject area. So I can understand how the latest version of patent reform—the America Invents Act (H.R. 1249)—came to be scheduled for floor consideration this week.

But the conservative movement has been raising serious concerns with key portions of patent reform for years, particularly the proposed switch from a “first-to-invent” to a “first-to-file” system. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution authorizes Congress, “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” The fact that the “Inventor” is specifically mentioned led the U.S. to adopt a “first-to-invent” test when disputes arise. Most of the rest of the world now uses a “first-to-file” system that rewards whoever submits their patent application first, regardless of whether the evidence shows that they were the inventor. Obviously, the first-to-file system favors deep pockets that can handle and expedite the paper work.

Proponents of the change argue that it is more efficient and would better harmonize with the rest of the world. It is more efficient, and it would better harmonize with the rest of the world, but that does not mean it is wise. It is important to note that we are descendants of the Glorious Revolution and English common law, which developed a strong public policy preference for private property rights not shared by the rest of the world. Incumbent in private property rights is a protection for an inventor of his patent, regardless of whether someone else files first for something the inventor invented first.

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3. It’s Game Time for Farm Subsidies and Ethanol in Washington

This week’s legislative schedule in both houses of Congress will provide Republicans (and faux moderate Democrats) a unique opportunity to efface farm welfare by eliminating ethanol credits/tariffs and direct farm subsidies.

On the House side, the annual Agriculture Appropriations bill is expected to hit the floor as early as Tuesday. Earlier this month, the Appropriations Committee passed the FY 2012 Ag bill, cutting $2.6 billion from 2011 spending levels, and most notably, $686 million from the WIC program. The committee also approved an amendment by Jeff Flake to cut off direct subsidies for farms owned by those with more than $250,000 in gross adjusted income.

The bill is a good start, however, there are still more cuts that need to be introduced during the floor amendment process.

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4. End subsidies to ethanol

We’ve Key Voted a “Yes” vote to Senator Coburn’s Amendment to kill Ethanol Subsidies.

Bad economic policy should be eliminated. Period. Exclamation point. End of story.

We have an opportunity to strike deep into the heart of Big Ethanol – Senator Coburn’s Amendment repeals not only the tax credit, but it also repeals the tariff on imported ethanol. It’s a great first step on the way to ridding the tax code of market-distorting energy subsidies and sends a message that Republicans are serious about tax reform.

Ethanol subsidies are an abomination. They are simply a form of corporate welfare. Their elimination would be pro-growth.

Senator Coburn’s Amendment is #436 to S. 782 and will most likely be voted on tomorrow. He needs 60 votes for cloture. Please join me in supporting his efforts.

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5. Texans: It’s time to take action against the Amazon / Internet Sales Tax

State governments are timid beasts. So often the country will refuse to move in a new policy direction unless one state jumps out ahead and acts first. In the past, California was often the dynamic frontrunner. Now, Texas is increasingly the example that other states ought to follow.

When it comes to the Amazon Tax, or the plan to change the tax laws in Texas to punish Amazon for out-competing its competitors, it looked like Texas was ready to lead in the the right direction. Governor Rick Perry vetoed HB 2403, the initial attempt at passing a special Amazon Tax in the state.

But the forces of tax-and-spend politics haven’t given up yet. Even as Texas celebrates its first all-funds spending reduction in decades, it seems like some people haven’t given up on raising taxes. So, the Amazon tax was re-inserted into SB 1 in the special session.

No matter what bill it’s in, a special Internet Sales Tax is a bad idea, and takes Texas in the wrong direction.

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