This is about the House and Senate GOP going over to offense from having been on defense since November.
On Monday I devoted my entire three hour show to a “teach-in” on the destructive “medical device tax,” which was embedded in Obamacare and which kicked in to great ruinous effect this year. I did so with three great guests in my California studio and a parade of Congressmen from the House Ways and Means Committee. My guests in studio included Tom Loarie, a serial start-up entrepreneur, Robert Grant who is an investor in the medical technology space, and one of my law partners, Gary Wolensky, who has been defending medical device companies for two decades.
The top Senate Republican is calling on the House to send over legislation to repeal the health care law’s tax on medical devices, following a bipartisan vote among senators in favor of such a move last week.
Appearing Monday evening on the Hugh Hewitt radio show along with Florida GOP Sen.Marco Rubio, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he thought House Republicans should pass a stand-alone repeal of the medical-device tax to see how the Senate would handle it. His chamber voted 79-20 to demonstrate support for abolishing the 2.3 percent excise tax on March 21 as an amendment to the fiscal 2014 Senate budget resolution (S Con Res 8). Thirty-three Democrats and independent Angus King of Maine joined all Republicans in supporting the measure offered by Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah.
Congressman Eric Paulsen from Minnesota, who was also part of Monday’s program, has 200 medical device companies in his district, and he posted the audio of his exchange with my panel here if you want to hear how the tax is impacting manufacturing and innovation.
Congressman Peter Roskam, also representing a state with many such companies and also part of the Ways and Mans Committee and of House GOP leadership candidly declared that if the House GOP leadership wants to move the repeal quickly, it can.
All of this is by way of introducing the idea that the House GOP needs to do more than fight the trench warfare of sequester, CRs and debt ceiling limits. It needs to put a story into these stories –the story of how the tax-and-spending policies of the Administration are crushing whole sectors of jobs and future growth. There are 8,000 medical device companies in the U.S. and they are getting hammered by this tax.
The repeal of the medical device tax is the perfect example of putting a compelling story into the Beltway stories that bore so many voters, and with the Senate making test vote of 79-20 in favor of repeal during the marathon budget votes last week, the door is wide open for the GOP to push repeal to the front of the agenda –and keep it there until it passes. I wrote about the Senate vote in my Monday Washington Examiner column, and how it fundamentally changed the politics on the ground, if the GOP but moves quickly.
The whole country is fixed on the arguments before the Supreme Court and of course that is a hugely important pair of cases, but after today’s proceedings the Easter weekend will settle the country into wait-and-see mode and the debt limit debate will creep in (and various foreign disasters and horrors.)
The GOP needs a story to tell, and the story of the medical device tax is that very story, perfect in every way, and needing only a push from House leadership to sail through Ways and Means, to Rules and then to the floor on its way to the Senate where the masterful Mitch McConnell can –again and again– oblige the Senate Democrats to put up or shut up.
The Congressional GOP could win a big victory for the country, for the medical device industry and for itself –if it would but act, if it will only just once play offense and play to win.
Watch that space to see if the Beltway GOP gets it.
Call your GOP member via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to urge them to pit repeal of the MDT on their agenda, or send a tweet to Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Ways and Means Committee Chairman David Camp via Twitter: @SpeakerBoehner, @EricCantor, @RepDaveCamp.
The House won’t return from its Easter recess until April 9, but you can still communicate with the key leaders and members during the next two weeks, and if you happen to be a constituent of theirs –especially if your job in the medical device business– you can call their local office which you can find via www.house.gov.
The GOP Members of the Ways and Means Committee in addition to Chairman Camp:
Sam Johnson, TX* Subcommittee on Health
Kevin Brady, TX* Chair, Subcommittee on Health
Paul Ryan, WI* Subcommittee on Health
Devin Nunes, CA* Subcommittee on Health
Pat Tiberi, OH
Dave G. Reichert, WA
Charles W. Boustany Jr., LA
Peter J. Roskam, IL* Subcommittee on Health
Jim Gerlach, PA* Subcommittee on Health
Tom Price, GA* Subcommittee on Health
Vern Buchanan, FL* Subcommittee on Health
Adrian Smith, NE* Subcommittee on Health
Aaron Schock, IL
Lynn Jenkins, KS
Erik Paulsen, MN
Kenny Marchant, TX
Diane Black, TN
Tom Reed, NY
Todd Young, IN
Mike Kelly, PA
Tim Griffin, AR
Jim Renacci, OH
Focus your efforts first on your own members, then on the members of the key Subcommittee on Health, and then on the entire committee. The tax has to go and the Senate opened the door to having that happen.