The Republican shellacking of Democrats on Tuesday has every politico in America pondering whether President Obama move to the center and attempt to strike deals with the GOP Congress, or more defiantly left simply because, well, he wasn't going to find common ground with the hardliners in the House anyway.
We may not know the answer for some time, but Mike Allen's Playbook reported Wednesday—with appropriate sarcasm—that there is one thing that both sides agree on: "The ONE issue that both sides told us they REALLY believe can get done next year: patent reform!"
I'll wait while you get yourself a Red Bull.
Here's the backstory. Democrats, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid, blocked patent reform in March after trial lawyers objected to a measure that would have made people who bring frivolous lawsuits liable for the costs of legal proceedings. Pharma and biotech companies also lobbied against the bill, as they both benefit from strong patent protections. The bill never even received a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee as many Democrats objected to this “loser-pay” provision.
Republicans were furious over this, arguing that Democrats had stood in the way of bipartisan legislation. That’s true. The House passed a similar bill to crack down on patent trolls 325-91, and President Barack Obama has long called for a similar style of reform. Yet, with Reid and Senaet Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy in charge, the trial lawyers had powerful friends blocking the legislation. That’s all about to change with Mitch McConnell as majority leader in 2015. Republicans have much weaker ties to trial lawyers and won’t feel the need to do them any favors.
So when the 114th Congress begins, expect patent reform to be atop the GOP’s to-do list—and for Democrats to work with them. It's not immigration or tax reform, but hey, it's a start.