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Public Statements

Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. FRANKEN. Mr. President, I rise today in support of the Marketplace Fairness Act. This act will level the playing field for small business retailers in Minnesota and across the country.

I want to thank Senator Enzi for his years of work on this. He had a retail shoe store. I thank Senator Durbin, Senator Heitkamp, and Senator Alexander for introducing this legislation. This legislation will simply allow States to help their brick-and-mortar retailers, including the mom-and-pop shops on Main Street, stay competitive in a marketplace where online sales have become a fact of life. The amendment we offered to the budget resolution today lays the groundwork for passing that legislation. It is a commonsense measure which brings our sales tax into the 21st century.

In Minnesota, the retail industry includes nearly a half million workers, which is about one in five jobs in our State. Those retailers need to compete on price and service every single day. The current sales tax system makes it impossible for them to compete.

Senator Cardin spoke about something that is very common around this country. I have heard the same exact story myself. It is where someone walks into an electronics store and wants to buy a big flat-screen TV, and they get the guy who knows everything to come over and point out what is the best for their needs. The salesman is a very skilled guy. He was hired because he knows what he is doing. He sells the TV, except he doesn't sell it, not for his store. Instead, the customer gets on their smart phone and buys it online. They buy the same exact model at the same exact price, but because he or she doesn't have to pay the sales tax--they are supposed to, by the way, but they don't--they buy it online. They end up saving $100 and the brick-and-mortar store, which pays for employees, sewer, schools, and everything which makes a society work, loses the sale and cannot compete. It is just not fair. It is just not fair.

This is a commonsense amendment. Small businesses have an exemption. The exemption is written in the amendment. People cannot say, well, just because they have an exemption, we are going to get rid of the exemption in some way. It is an exemption that is a part of the amendment we are proposing.

I am proud to be on this bill. I am proud of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. The Marketplace Fairness Act is common sense, it is bipartisan, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this amendment.

I yield the floor.


Mr. FRANKEN. I rise today to speak about the promise of biomedical innovation in our country, as did Senator Klobuchar. I talk a lot about the importance of biomedical innovation because in my home State of Minnesota there are 400 medical device companies, and there are more than 30,000 employees who support our economy while creating high-quality jobs. They do it while saving and improving patients' lives.

The industry is being punished for its innovation and growth. The medical device tax is cutting into the proceeds which go toward research and development and workforce training. By taxing companies on the first dollar of sales, they are especially hurting the very small companies, the startup companies, which may not be in profit yet. This is why I am happy to join with Senator Klobuchar, with Senator Hatch, in filing this amendment to the budget resolution to allow for the repeal of the medical device tax. This amendment is an important first step toward fully repealing the tax and providing much-needed relief for our innovators and doing it in a fiscally responsible way.

Along with Senator Klobuchar, I fought this tax from the beginning. The health care law will insure 30 million new Americans while also improving the health care of every American citizen. While I am proud to be a champion of that law, I believe the medical device tax is not the way to pay for it.

On this point, I disagree with the Obama administration, as I did from the beginning. Senator Klobuchar also disagreed from the beginning. We fought against the tax and ultimately we were successful in getting it cut in half from what it was when it came out of the Finance Committee.

As a member of the HELP Committee, I will continue to improve our regulatory process. I am very proud I had a part in helping create the Medical Device Innovation Consortium, a private-public partnership in this industry which is a first of its kind. Part of this, I believe, is the full repeal of the Medical Device Act. As a first step, I ask my colleagues join those of us who are cosponsors of this critical amendment.

I yield the floor.


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