Republicans in Congress are having a hard time. The White House miasma rolling down Pennsylvania Ave is paralyzing Capitol Hill Republicans facing 2018 re-election. Torn at home between Trump’s solid but vindictive base and what they know is not fake news, they duck responding to presidential utterances that seem to leave them standing atop a triggered land mine. Matters got worse this weekend as WSJ’s Peggy Noonan ordered them to march through the wave to the Oval Office and tell its occupant to stop behaving like “Democracy is his plaything.” At the same time, the WSJ editorial staff ordered them to stay in place and start piling up “significant policy wins” before it is too late. Easier said than done.
The beleaguered Ryan team knows that whatever they do they are in for criticism by former friends. They know that accusations of crime and collusion will dominate the news and Oval Office attention irrespective of their policy propositions. They will need presidential help to pass significant policy and cannot count on it. They were elected to vote simple no’s not aye’s on complex health and tax reform. Gutting health care for the poor while cutting taxes for the rich is getting riskier. Too much of the base that voted for them solidly supports “their president” in spite of the leftist “Fake News” accusations. Defending the president today is dangerous when the story can change tomorrow. Walking the plank to vote for bills they know will split their former constituency and even provoke deaths threats may make sense in establishment Republican circles but not to them. Any floor consideration of “significant policy” will prompt Sophie’s Choice Democrat anti-Trump amendments (aptly called “wedgies”) that can hoist them high enough to attract political retribution from an angry base. Even in the Senate where Leader McConnell seeks agreement “within the Republican Conference” it looks like they may have to “collude” with Democrats, which for some in the base is the worst sin of all. Meanwhile, the press is lifting every rock in sight picking through swamp crawlies underneath in search of Pulitzers and “shocked ” Democrats mask their delight with feigned horror during TV interviews made more available by Republicans who have no talking points. The paralysis is real. But while nothing moves, re-election gets closer.This landscape is unfamiliar territory to us all. That makes it dangerous. We can help ourselves by thanking them in advance for protecting our nation’s innovation ecosystem.
Although efficient infringer, libertarians rejoice at government paralysis, we know they need to pass their patent litigation reform. We know that price controls or Innovation Act amendments under the control of bi-cameral Judiciary Chairs can kill TTO commercialization. We know like nature, the Hill abhors a vacuum. Capital Hill chaos which was once our pro-patent friend a now a potentially dangerous enemy. Hassled House Republicans are cornered, distracted, and thus very susceptible to tales of patent trolls. Our pro-patent, efficient infringement message is less sexy than trolls. It protect us only if we keep repeating it. Your Congressperson will appreciate any cheerful change of subject. When you get a chance, talk about Bayh- Dole successes in your home state. Thank them for funding basic science. Thank them for funding NIH. Thank them for standing up to big tech even though they will need lots of campaign financing to overcome their present political peril. At this point, they will enjoy hearing some kind words from constituents.