H.R. 3639, the confidently-titled Provide for the Common Defense Act, would restore sequestration defense cuts by cutting Social Security and Medicare. Because what could be more popular than taking from popular programs and giving to unpopular, waste- and corruption-filled programs? Specifically, the bill would increase deductibles for new Medicare enrollees after 2017 -- I hope young folks do remember that they will, one day, all be new Medicare enrollees -- and would attach cost-of-living increases to the dread "chained CPI," an index which, as we know, does not reflect the sheer number of fixed costs seniors face. To be fair, the bill also caps crop insurance payments, though it leaves other agricultural subsidies untouched. But on balance, this is a terrible way to "provide for the common defense." Remember when the 91% tax bracket helped provide for the common defense? I guess Congress doesn't. USAction helps you tell your Congressfolk to reject H.R. 3639.
Meanwhile, H.R. 3309, the Innovation Act, could get a House vote as early as today, and this particular Innovation Act (authored by Bob Goodlatte, Republican of Virginia, and co-sponsored by nine House Republicans and seven House Democrats) actually would help unleash innovation -- not to mention actually stop frivolous lawsuits -- by making it harder for patent trolls to buy up patents and then sue people willy-nilly for "violating" them. If H.R. 3309 becomes law, would-be patent trolls would have to specify exactly what part or parts of the patent they think the target of their lawsuit is violating, plus they would have to pay the defendant's court costs if they lose -- and that's a substantial deterrent to filing frivolous lawsuits, since most patent trolls bet on their ability to collect quick settlements rather than have their opponents go broke defending themselves. The Electronic Frontier Foundation helps you email or call your House Reps and urge them to support the Innovation Act.
In other news, the Pennsylvania state Senate, though nominally dominated by law-and-order Republicans, plans to push through a bill (SB 411) that would virtually immunize gas drilling corporations from polluting nearby water tables. Because you learned from your parents that when you make a mess, you should lobby your state legislators to pass a law mandating that someone else clean up your mess, right? SB 411 allegedly builds on Pennsylvania's "Good Samaritan Law," which immunizes mining corporations that voluntarily treat acid mine pollution, but handing out a get-out-of-jail-free card to gas drilling corporations who know they're polluting the water we drink and bathe in and wash clothes and dishes with would be more accurately described as a loophole. And all the gas drillers would have to do to drive through this loophole would be to take the water from abandoned mine sites and use it to frack -- not, you know, treat it so that people might use it. Both PennEnvironment and the Sierra Club help you tell your PA state legislators to oppose SB 411.
Finally, in a slap in the face to all good Americans fighting the corruption of our democracy by mammon, the SEC has apparently decided not to issue a rule requiring that corporations disclose their election spending to their shareholders. The SEC has dragged its feet on this rule for years now, finally putting the issuing of said rule on its official agenda for 2013, then not issuing the rule and "disappearing" the rule from its 2014 agenda. Jesus Mary and Joseph did they think no one would notice? Do they think shareholders in America care about nothing besides money? Do they think shareholders don't care if their corporate boards waste their money trying to elect utter wastes of flesh like Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, who came within five percentage points of unseating Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown in 2012 with the help of $40 million in big corporate bucks? Public Citizen helps you tell the SEC to do its damn job already.