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Warsaw Times-Union - Guest Column: House Will Vote To End Device Tax

Op-Ed

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Location: Warsaw, IN

By Representative Martin Stutzman

President Coolidge famously remarked that "the chief business of the American people is business." Nowhere is this better exemplified than in Northeast Indiana. From farms to factories, Hoosiers lead the country in innovation and production. Indiana's 3rd District is a manufacturing stronghold.

Freight trains ride steel rails made here in Indiana. Families can enjoy their weekends in Hoosier RV's. Cancer survivors, seniors, and wounded veterans around the country enjoy renewed mobility thanks to innovative medical devices made here at home.

While Hoosiers have shouldered market loss in this difficult economy, one sector has grown steadily in our state: medical device manufacturing. Warsaw hosts the headquarters of dozens of leading medical device companies and had earned the title of "Orthopedic Capital of the World." In 2009 alone, the Warsaw region represented half of the U.S. market share of orthopedic device manufacturing and 33 percent of the global market.

Clearly, Northeast Indiana is ready to lead bioscience in the same way that Silicon Valley has led information technology. Hoosiers have the innovative know-how that medical device manufacturers need. At a time when Indiana is showing the country that it's open for business, the industry has created jobs -- high paying jobs. The sector employs more than 20,000 Hoosiers at wages 56 percent higher than the state's average. The industry's economic footprint isn't limited to the production floor but expands with stronger communities.

This isn't just about numbers -- this is about people. The industry's work is also measured by the comfort it brings. Statistics can't tell the stories of leukemia survivors living active lives or seniors, like my own grandmother, enjoying independent living. A wounded veteran's renewed sense of purpose isn't something that you'll calculate on a spreadsheet. Yet, these are the benefits that the medical device industry brings.

Unfortunately, Washington is threatening to erase this success story. A new 2.3 percent tax on medical device company sales puts Hoosier jobs at risk. This ill-conceived tax was designed to fuel the spending in President Obama's health care legislation and now endangers our community. Not content to merely tax profits, Washington's insatiable appetite for taxes is focused on this industry's sales. This tax is causing medical device companies to contract and could result in more than 10 percent of those jobs being lost. The tax could destroy 43,000 jobs across the country. Here at home, more than 2,000 jobs could be eliminated.

Washington needs to focus on recovery and this job-crushing, industry-specific tax hike is a clear loser. Given the importance of medical device manufacturing to Indiana, I'm proud that today the House will vote to repeal this tax and save Hoosier jobs.

My friend and ally from Minnesota, Congressman Erik Paulsen, introduced the Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2011. I'm proud to be an original co-sponsor of this legislation. Mr. Paulsen and I have worked to build a strong, bipartisan coalition. We explained the facts and outlined the case. That work has produced results. This week when the legislation comes to the floor, more than half of my colleagues will have joined us with their co-sponsorships.

Washington can learn from the pioneers who take ideas from the drawing board to surgery center. Too often, it seems as if Washington isn't much interested in hearing voices from the real economy. Not this time. I'm proud that the House will vote to end this tax. Congress can do the right thing for patients and job creators.


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