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Special Treatment

9:31 AM, Dec 11, 2012 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
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From Sam Baker's report in the Hill, one learns that:

Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) on Monday sought to delay a new tax on medical devices, which is part of President Obama's signature healthcare law. 

And that:

The Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), which represents device makers, praised the senators' effort but said the tax must be fully repealed.

The tax was crafted as a means of financing the Affordable Care Act to the amount of some $20 billion. This is money that will have to come from somewhere if this tax is repealed. And perhaps it should be. The medical device industry provides both employment and greater quality of life and, in many case, just life, itself, to people who are walking around today because of an implanted stent or defibrillator or some other marvelous device.

Still ... is this the way we want to do business?  Or, rather, is this the way we want to continue doing business?  Every industry can claim to create jobs.  It wouldn't be much of an industry if it couldn't.  And a good industry association, with a nice headquarters suite on K Street, can craft a message about how essential the industry is to the economy and all the benefits it provides to the nation and, indeed, the world.  And Congress can craft a carve out with the lost revenues being found ... somewhere.  Or, perhaps, nowhere.  Just put it on the credit card.

If there is one prospective reform about which it would seem possible to build a consensus, that would be tax reform and simplification.  Instead of crafting yet another special exemption for this industry or that, perhaps the objective should be to eliminate those that are already on the books.  Thus freeing up time in Congress, revenues from previously protected special interests, and real estate on K Street.

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