Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

February 18, 2014

DAN COATS: Bipartisan proposals to kick start 'year of action'

President can repeal device tax, OK pipeline

President Obama pro­claimed he wants to make 2014 “a year of action” during his recent State of the Union address.

Coming off one of the most unproductive and politically divisive years in congressional history, I am receptive to his call for Washington to accomplish more this year.

Back home, I frequently hear from Hoosiers who are deeply frustrated with the lack of constructive progress on Capitol Hill. I am told regularly Washington’s dysfunction should be no excuse for inaction.

Despite a deeply divided government, two major bipartisan solutions exist that could create new jobs, help working families and kick-start the president’s desire for action. All they need is his support.

One bipartisan idea awaiting approval from President Obama is a full repeal of the tax on medical devices included in Obamacare. Seventy-nine senators support eliminating this damaging tax, and the House of Representatives already passed legislation to repeal it.

Since its implementation, the harmful tax on medical devices has caused companies to lay off American workers and shelve plans to expand and build new manufacturing plants. With more than 300 FDA-registered medical device manufacturers in Indiana, this tax hits our state especially hard.

Medical device companies directly employ more than 20,000 Hoosiers, and the medical device industry indirectly supports thousands of additional Hoosier jobs.

However, this tax is not just costing jobs in Indiana and across the country. It is limiting research and development of life-enhancing and life-saving devices, such as artificial knees and catheters used in heart procedures, that help people overcome significant health challenges.

The tax is particularly unfair because it is assessed on the gross sales of companies, not their net profits. As a result, it is especially harmful to companies that are not yet profitable and may be struggling to launch a new innovation to save and improve lives.

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