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CD058: Space Travel, TSA, Wall Street, & Patents

During the first week of December, the House of Representatives passed bills to extend an insurance program that provides taxpayer bailouts to private space exploration companies, made changes to TSA policies, tried (again) to deregulate Wall Street gamblers, and tried to shut down patent trolls. Information Presented in this Episode

H.R. 3547: “Space Launch Liability Indemnification Extension Act”

  • Extends an existing government insurance program for private companies that launch vehicles into space through 2014.
  • The program has three tiers:
  1. The private companies buy insurance from a private insurance company for the “maximum probably loss” that would occur if there were an accident; the insurance is capped at $500 million. The “maximum probable loss” is determined by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); the Government Accountability Office says that the FAA’s method for calculating the risk is outdated.
  2. GAO quoteIf the “maximum probably loss” is not actually the maximum loss, taxpayers will pay up to $2.8 billion (in 2013 dollars -this number increases with inflation) for damage caused by the private companies’ accident.
  3. Any amount over the insurance payment plus the taxpayers’ $2.8 billion must be paid by the private company who caused the accident.
  • The insurance program extension has been requested by the private companies who stand to profit from launching vehicles into space.

    Rep. Lamar Smith (TX), author of H.R. 3547

    Rep. Lamar Smith (TX), author of H.R. 3547

  • Rep. Lamar Smith (TX), author of H.R. 3547, has taken money for the 2014 election from companies requesting the insurance program.

    Source: OpenSecrets.org on December 20, 2013

    Source: OpenSecrets.org on December 20, 2013

  • Passed the House of Representatives on December 2, 2013

    Source: Govtrack.us

    Source: Govtrack.us

H.R. 1095: “TSA Loose Change Act”

  • Would divert approximately $500,000 per year in abandoned change from airports from TSA airport security, where it currently goes, to  building areas of “rest and recuperation” for military families at airports.
Rep. Cedric Richmond (VA), December 3, 2013 Congressional Record

Rep. Cedric Richmond (VA), December 3, 2013 Congressional Record

  • Passed the House of Representatives without a recorded vote on December 3, 2013.

H.R. 2719: “Transportation Security Acquisition Reform Act”

H.R. 3626: Extends Undetectable Firearms Act for 10 Years

H.R. 1105: Deregulate Wall Street Gamblers

  • Real name: “Small Business Capital Access and Job Preservation Act” (hello, Orwell).
  • Exempts private equity fund advisers from registering with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
  • Passed largely along Party lines, getting almost unanimous Republican support. Screen Shot 2013-12-20 at 5.50.38 PM
  • Unsurprisingly, the bill was supported by Democrat Jim Himes of Connecticut, a former Vice President of Goldman Sachs.Himes

    Rep. Jim Himes (CT), OpenSecrets.org as of 12/20/2013

    Rep. Jim Himes (CT), OpenSecrets.org as of 12/20/2013

  • Just a few weeks ago, the House passed H.R. 992, an even more offensive bill that would allow United States’ government bailouts for domestic AND FOREIGN banks that participate in credit default swaps trading - the type of behavior that crashed the global economy.

H.R. 3309: “Innovation Act”

  • Requires more details when filing a lawsuit for patent infringement.
  • Losers of lawsuits must pay expenses and fees of the winners, but the court can intervene.
  • Limits discovery requests; they must be specific.
  • Patent claims must be available on a searchable, public website.
  • Limits lawsuits down the supply chain (for example, patent trolls have been suing coffee shops and hotels for offering Wifi and have sued podcasters, including Adam Corrolla, claiming they own the technology
  • The bill passed on December 5, 2013 with 91 Representatives voting against it because they say the bill was rushed and not examined closely enough for unintended consequences. Screen Shot 2013-12-20 at 6.10.29 PM

Representatives Quoted in This Episode (In Order of Appearance)

Music & Other Audio in This Episode

Intro and Exit Music: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)

National Geographic’s Seconds from Disaster – Challenger Explosion

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