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Senators Mitch McConnell And Marco Rubio On Prospects To Repeal The Medical Device Tax

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

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HH: So pleased to welcome back to the program now leader of the Republicans in the United States Senate, Mitch McConnell, and he’s traveling around with Senator Marco Rubio. Senator McConnell, welcome, it’s good to have you on.

MM: Glad to be with you. I’ve got Senator Rubio here in Kentucky with me. We’ve done a couple of events today, and when you and I finish up, I’m going to hand the phone to him.

HH: I’m going to ask you both the same question. I spent the entire show with Robert Grant, who’s the CEO of Strathspey Crown, and with Thomas Loarie, who’s executive chairman of Mercator MedSystems talking about this medical device tax. Congratulations on putting forward an amendment that had 79 senators vote to repeal this thing. Is that going to get followed through on, Senator, to get that repeal accomplished?

MM: Well, the vote on the medical device tax repeal doesn’t get it done. It’s a vote on a budget resolution, which doesn’t technically get it done. Having said that, it’s extremely important. 79 members of the United States Senate, including some very liberal Democrats like Elizabeth Warren, actually voted to repeal the medical device tax, so that’s a signal that when we come back to it on a bill that can actually become law, it’s going to be very difficult for them to explain why they voted to repeal it on one occasion and don’t vote to repeal it on another. So I think there’s no way you can overstate the significance of that. It’s the beginning of the cracking, the breaking up of Obamacare.

HH: And so if the House gets it back over to you quickly in the spring, a stand alone bill, is it possible to get it through the Senate in some sort of a way to a vote?

MM: I think if the House sent us a stand alone medical device tax, it’s going to be really fascinating to see all these liberal Democrats figure out how they’re going to deal with it. And I think the House now, the Senate having voted the way it did, should send us a bill to do precisely that very soon.

HH: Tom Loarie, go ahead.

TL: Senator McConnell, this is Tom Loarie with Mercator Med, which is a young start-up company in Silicon Valley. And I’m very concerned about when. We’re sending money to Washington now. It’s very difficult to raise money for young companies. I’m in a company, like many of our other companies, that are cash negative. And we’re seeing the whole industry implode. Meanwhile, I spent last Thursday with the prime minister of Ireland, who is out there encouraging us and showing good signs of why we should move to Ireland. A number of companies have. VC’s are now moving there. So there’s competition for what we’re going in the United States, and it appears at times, and I’ve been in the industry for over 40 years, that Washington isn’t too concerned about whether or not we maintain our leadership role.

MM: Well, Senate Republicans are. We know it’s a global economy. I just listened to Senator Rubio make a speech at the University of Louisville this afternoon in part on that very subject. We know these jobs don’t have to be in the United States. And the things like the medical device tax are going to end up exporting jobs, for example, the example you just gave of being courted by Ireland. So we think the House ought to send over a full repeal of the medical device tax as rapidly as possible, and we’ll try to figure out how to get it through the Senate.

HH: Senator, let me talk to Senator Rubio. I appreciate your time. I’ve got about a minute and a half, and I know you wanted him on. Senator Rubio, welcome to the program.

MM: Here’s Senator Rubio.

HH: Okay. Hey, Senator, welcome, we’re talking very quickly about the medical device tax. I assume you voted the right way. How did your folks in Florida feel about that?

MR: Well, first of all, thanks for having us on. It’s great to be here in Kentucky with Senator McConnell. But let me say on the medical device tax, I think that people are happy, and they can’t wait for us to get rid of it. And look, no state is going to see the negative implications of Obamacare quicker than our state is going to see, and this is part of it. Wait until next year when people have to start paying a penalty to the IRS because they don’t buy insurance the way the government wants them to. You’re going to start to see a real outcry to repeal the whole thing.

HH: And so do you expect if the House sends it over quickly that you’re able to rally support to get it through, a vote on this, because Senator Reid’s not for it. Robert Grant, you were going to say something?

RG: Yeah, I just wanted to ask the question. I think the way the vote went, obviously it was just directional, because it doesn’t really change anything right now. But it was contingent upon a pay for being found. What’s the quid pro quo? And I’d like to understand from Senator Rubio and Senator McConnell’s perspective what is the pay for that you could provide for this, because I think this is a critical piece of a change related to the Affordable Care Act, that if we could repeal this, I think we’re going to see jobs and innovation return to this country again in a major way related to medical devices.

HH: Senator Rubio?

MR: Well, first of all, I think that’s one of the reasons why Obamacare’s going to collapse, because it’s so expensive and so massive, that the kind of taxes that you have to raise in order to pay for it are unsustainable. And this is just one example of an entire industry that’s going to be wiped out and moved overseas because of this belief that somehow we’re going to, you know, Obamacare’s going to make our country better. It’s not. So look, I think if it’s sent over from the House, or if we have an opportunity to offer it as an amendment that’s actually going to pass, it’s going to be very, very interesting to see what the Democrats are going to do, because I can tell you there’s 70 of them, 70-some odd number of them already that are on record as being against it without a pay for.

HH: Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Mitch McConnell, safe travels through Kentucky. Have a wonderful Easter, thanks for spending some time with us tonight.

End of interview.

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