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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Erik Paulsen: He Makes It Worse

Category: Erik Paulsen
Posted: 08/26/15 21:22

by Dave Mindeman

When Republicans talk about tax relief and debt, there are usually two types of approaches. And although I don't particularly like either one, there is one approach I can respect, the other I can't. One approach just cuts taxes with a subsequent increase in debt....while the other offsets a tax cut with spending cuts. I respect the latter...the former is just hypocritical.

That's why this puffy piece about Rep. Erik Paulsen in Minnpost leaves me disappointed with the lack of depth.

I have talked about Paulsen's determination to satisfy his donor base with a repeal of the Medical Device Tax in the ACA. But the Minnpost article seems to be impressed with Paulsen's wonky approach to his job and mentions 4 particular bills --

A) Family Healthcare Flexibility Act. This repeals the cap on on FSA accounts for medical purposes....as well as the prohibition of purchasing OTC drugs with the account. More fudging with ACA.

B)Private Foundation Excise Tax Simplification Act. Amends the Internal Revenue Code to: reduce from 2% to 1% the excise tax rate on the net investment income of tax-exempt private foundations. Real wonky stuff.

C) Don't Tax Our Public Safety Heroes Act. Exempts taxation of public survivor benefits for public safety officers killed in the line of duty. Hard to oppose that.

D) Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act. This lowers excise taxes on craft alcoholic beverages and streamlines regulations and tax filing rules with other benefits for small craft producers. Minnesota nice.

So what two things do these items have in common (including the Medical Device Tax repeal)? Well, #1, they all reduce taxes. And #2, they all add to the national debt.

Erik Paulsen is good at finding taxes to cut or phase out or move around, but he is just awful at helping to balance the budget. Outside of a mention of the lack of offset in the Medical Device bill (a reason he does not get more Democratic support), the Minnpost article does not delve into the very real problem of repealing taxes without correcting for the revenue.

Paulsen has made a career for himself by characterizing himself as a tax cutter....but when it comes to cutting spending (the real wonky and often unpopular thing to do), Paulsen is terrible. He avoids that discussion altogether.

So praising Paulsen for getting all this support for his tax cut proposals seem very disingenuous to me. He does the easy part, but is very risk averse when it comes to doing the real work of government...balancing a budget.

So, if you feel that the national debt is your big issue....if you feel that the job of Congress is to get rid of that debt, then Rep. Erik Paulsen is not your go to person.

He makes our country's debt worse. Much worse.
comments (3) permalink

Medtronic And Professional Bribery

Category: Erik Paulsen
Posted: 07/12/15 13:27

by Dave Mindeman

Rep. Erik Paulsen (and the rest of the MN delegation for that matter) defends his quest to repeal the medical device tax by using rhetoric that refers to companies like Medtronic as victims of the ACA.

But it is hard to take that seriously when you read things like this:

New federal data show that Medtronic continues to pay millions of dollars to doctors whose research on a controversial spinal product has come into question. The Minnesota-run company's spine division, Medtronic Sofamor Danek, paid $60.7 million in royalties to 79 doctors and their affiliates in 2014, according to the data. That includes money that went to the authors of disputed studies of the back pain treatment Infuse, a product that has sparked hundreds of patient injury lawsuits.

Here we have a company that whines about the "onerous" medical device tax, yet has millions to pay out in lobbying and millions more to pay out in professional "bribery".

What is the Paulsen perspective on that?

And these payments (excuse me, "royalties";) are being paid to doctors while the product, Infuse, is under fire....

More than 6,000 patient-injury claims have been filed in court or are awaiting filing, securities filings say. Medtronic has paid an average $23,000 per case to settle 950 cases, and set aside another $140 million for future legal costs.

That's a lot of money, right? But not in comparison to this:

Sales of Infuse exceeded $4 billion from 2002 to 2011.

Yet, Medtronic and the other device manufacturers (and all of them make these payments to doctors) insist that they cannot "afford" to pay this "unfair" and "onerous" medical device tax.

Maybe they should just pretend that the device tax is another of their questionable devices and set aside a few hundred million for future "payments".

Has Paulsen ever addressed Medtronic's actions in this regard? How does he justify repealing the tax and offering no revenue offset, which would force taxpayers to cover the gap, and not telling those same taxpayers that he defends an industry which routinely bribes doctors and settles lawsuits rather than recalling the product?

Where's THAT explanation?
comments (1) permalink

Erik Paulsen - Fiscal Responsibility?

Category: Erik Paulsen
Posted: 06/19/15 11:16

by Dave Mindeman

The Medical Device Tax repeal passed the House (again), and Erik "Mr. Fiscal Responsibility" Paulsen says.....

Regardless, at least for today, Paulsen was all smiles. The pay-for "wasn't a hang-up in the House and it won't be a hang-up in the Senate whatsoever," he said.

By "pay-for", Paulsen is referring to a revenue offset for the loss of tax dollars that would happen if the Device Tax is repealed. Paulsen has NEVER offered any kind of offset....never. As it moves into the Senate, the new Republican controlled Senate, Paulsen expects, even hopes, that that deficit hole continues.

That seems to be the new definition of Republican fiscal policy.

Of course, the GOP hopes that the Supreme Court shuts down Obamacare.. although a number of GOPers are starting to realize that if Obamacare goes away, they have to figure out the aftermath. With control of both the House and the Senate, they will be held responsible for all of those people who will lose their health insurance.

But in Paulsen world, none of that matters. His corporate sugar daddies have one focus - the Device Tax. Therefore, Paulsen has one focus. The same thing. Why worry about budgets and offsets and replacement money.

That's for people who care about balanced budgets and paying for things.

Rep. Erik Paulsen doesn't do that.
comments (1) permalink
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