Tag: Senate Finance Committee

Lawmakers Push for Stronger Patent Protections from Customs and Border Protection

Manufacturers know that intellectual property is the basis of America’s innovative economy, and protecting intellectual property (IP) rights assures manufacturers that their inventions will be secure as they build their companies and create jobs. Manufacturers face many challenges in protecting their IP, and they need allies in the federal government to help halt illicit imports that infringe on their rights.

Several Congressional leaders recently called on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to more effectively protect U.S. patent holders from imports that infringe their patents, without disrupting legitimate trade. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch sent a recent letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to inquire about CBP’s resources and processes for enforcing  exclusion orders. Rep. Howard Coble, Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property & the Internet, also sent a letter expressing his concerns about CBP’s process for enforcing exclusion orders. Rep. Coble called for DHS to conduct an independent review of CBP’s enforcement procedures and make recommendations that would improve fairness, transparency and efficacy.

Under Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) is charged with investigating allegations of unfair import practices that involve patent infringement. If the ITC finds that a violation has occurred, it directs CBP to deny entry of the infringing product into the United States. Patent holders that prevail in these costly, technical and often contentious cases should expect robust enforcement from CBP. A survey conducted in FY2010 found that more than half of respondents believed infringing goods had been imported after ITC issued an exclusion order.

The NAM will continue working to ensure lawmakers pursue a manufacturing growth agenda that recognizes IP as the basis of an innovation economy and supports trade.

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An Obvious Omission in President’s Good Remarks on Trade

President Obama’s weekend radio address built on his trip to Brazil, Chile and El Salvador to make the cause for expanded U.S. trade with Latin America. From the White House transcript:

Latin America is a part of the world where the economy is growing very quickly. And as these markets grow, so does their demand for goods and services. The question is, Where are those goods and services going to come from? As President, I want to make sure these products are made in America. I want to open more markets around the world so that American companies can do more business and hire more of our people.

Here’s a statistic to explain why this is important. Every $1 billion of goods and services we export supports more than 5,000 jobs in the United States. So, the more we sell overseas, the more jobs we create on our shores.

Absent from the President’s remarks is any mention of Colombia and the ever-pending U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Colombia boasts the second largest economy in South America, so its omission from the address stood out.

Last month, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) also traveled to Brazil and fittingly included Colombia in his South American journey. From the Finance Committee, Feb. 26, “Baucus Meets with Colombian President, Highlights Need for U.S.-Colombia FTA, Renewing Andean Trade Preferences“:

Washington, DC / Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) today met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. (continue reading…)

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Why Are Polls Ever Front-Page News?

The Washington Post today leads its front page with a story, “Public Option gains support,” a story based on a Washington Post-ABC News Poll.

Attorney, law professor and talk show host Hugh Hewitt examines the polling methodology and reports the sample:

Only 20 percent of adults identify themselves as Republicans, little changed in recent months, but still the lowest single number in Post-ABC polls since 1983. Political independents continue to make up the largest group, at 42 percent of respondents; 33 percent call themselves Democrats.

ABC News/Washington Post pollsters called just over a thousand people, only found 20% who said they were Republicans, and they think it’s news that Obamacare is now winning the day in American public opinion overwhelmingly. I’m stunned. I think I need to go lie down.

Hewitt notes that Rasmussen reported that at the end of September of this year, the party breakdown in the country was 32.1% Republican, 37.5% Democrat. If all the rest were independents, you’d get 30.4% independent.

It’s always been a matter of principle for mainstream journalists to insist “We don’t make up the news.” But every story based on public opinion surveys blows that claim out of the water.

Here, by the way, is the .pdf text of Senate Finance Committee’s health care bill, released the week after the committee approved the measure.  It’s 1,502 pages.

UPDATE (10:40 a.m.): Kellyanne Conway (president & CEO of the polling company™, inc./WomanTrend) does a deeper analysis of Washington Post poll:

Asking an under-informed public in a poll about “public option” is incomplete. It calls for a response to feel-good phraseology rather than a probing of underlying ideology. “Public option” in health care is not so different from “campaign finance reform,” “Violence Against Women’s Act,” “revenue enhancements” or for that matter, “world peace’ and “no rain this Saturday.”

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On the Senate Finance Health Care Bill

A statement from Jay Timmons, executive vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers, reacting to the 14-9 vote in the Senate Finance Committee to pass out health care reform legislation this afternoon.

While acknowledging the improvements the Finance Committee version has made — no public option, for example — the NAM objects to major provisions. Excerpt:

[The] NAM remains deeply concerned that the Senate Finance Committee’s bill overall will add costs to the health care system and, by extension, the manufacturing community, on top of the already spiraling costs manufacturers and their employees face today.

Specifically, we believe the excise tax imposed on insurance plans will have a negative economic impact on many manufacturers. And, the Finance Committee’s imposition of industry-specific fees singles out businesses solely to raise revenues – costs that ultimately will be passed onto consumers.

The NAM is also concerned about the proposed tax on employer-provided prescription benefits, limits on Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and new requirements on corporate information reporting.

Lastly, we are disappointed that the bill does not address the costly issue of “defensive medicine” through medical malpractice reform in any meaningful way.

The Finance Committee’s news release is here, and Sen. Max Baucus’ opening statement is here.

UPDATE (5:15 p.m.): Here’s the vote tally.

UPDATE (5:20 p.m.): A tally of the $507 billion in new taxes and fees.

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