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Shaheen's hindsight: Rethinking the medical device tax

December 11. 2012 11:57PM

On Dec. 4, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen signed a letter asking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to delay implementing Obamacare's 2.3 percent medical device tax, which is set to take effect on Jan. 1. It took her only two years, 8 months and 13 days to do it. That is how much time elapsed between her voting for Obamacare and signing the letter. The Senate has only 19 days left to act before the tax takes effect. Where, one wonders, has Shaheen been all this time?

Shaheen was one of 16 (14 senators and two senators-elect) to sign the letter. Among them were Sens. John Kerry and Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Sens. Charles Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand of New York - all Democrats from states with a vibrant medical device industry, which is about to get whacked hard by the tax most of them voted for.

The Advanced Medical Technology Association says the tax will cost 43,000 jobs. It will also raise the cost of medical care, as manufacturers will of course pass the tax along to consumers. Tim Steele, owner and founder of Microspec in Peterborough, told the Union Leader last month, "Everyone is talking about medical care costs going up, and here is something that is making them go up even faster."

Such are the unintended, though perfectly predictable, consequences of wealth redistribution. That Shaheen is scrambling at the last minute to lighten the impact shows that she understands how harmful it is going to be. If only she had listened when this was pointed out at the time.

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