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Topics: Obamacare

Harry Reid: Obamacare medical device tax is 'stupid,' Democrats oppose it, and I'll fight to save it

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Beltway Confidential,Byron York,Taxes,Obamacare,Democratic Party,Harry Reid

House Republicans are considering attaching a provision to the government funding resolution that would repeal Obamacare's 2.3 percent tax on medical devices. It's widely viewed as a damaging and counterproductive levy affecting a leading American industry, and all Republicans oppose it. Most Democrats do, too. When the Senate held a non-binding test vote on repeal last March, the vote was 79 to 20. The majority favoring repeal included all 45 of the Senate's Republicans and 34 Democrats. The Democratic opposition to the tax was particularly notable given that three years earlier Democrats voted unanimously to impose it.

So Reid would not reject a repeal provision if the House attaches it to the continuing resolution, right? Wrong. At a news conference today, Reid simultaneously denounced the tax — he quite pointedly called it "stupid" — and pledged that he and his fellow Democrats would fight an effort to repeal it in the continuing resolution.

"We want a clean CR," Reid said. "That's what we're going to get. If they want to shut down the government, here's how much time they have to figure it out." With that, Reid pointed to a clock Democrats had brought into the press gallery, which at that moment read 4 days, 11 hours, 22 minutes, and 15 seconds.

"No," Reid said flatly. "They can play around all they want. Some of the biggest supporters for doing away with the stupid tax — I'm sorry, I shouldn’t have said that — doing away with that tax have told me they will not support that on CR."

So Reid and his fellow Democrats will kill any effort to kill a tax that they oppose if it comes up in the continuing resolution. They will resist repealing the tax even if a standoff would lead to a government shutdown. Reid went on to hint at possible future cooperation — "If they want to look at the device tax, let's do it in the context of a separate piece of legislation," he said. But Obamacare has been law for more than three and a half years, and the tax is still there. No matter how "stupid" it is, the Senate Majority leader is determined to protect it.

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Byron York

Chief Political Correspondent
The Washington Examiner