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Obamacare tax on 'medical devices' expected to cost 146,000 jobs

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

As the fight over Obamacare raged in the House and Senate Wednesday, a new worry emerged that has the potential to push 146,000 high-paid, high-skill American jobs overseas.

Former Bush economist Diana Furchtgott-Roth told a House panel that the tiny provision in Obamacare that puts a 2.3 percent tax on "medical devices" such as heart valves, insulin pumps and dental fillings will stifle development of the devices and push production overseas since no other country taxes the items.

Testifying before the Energy and Commerce Committee, she said that a 10 percent shift in production overseas would cost up to 64,000 jobs and a 30 percent shift would cost up to 146,000 jobs.

Furchtgott-Roth, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, predicted that firms facing the tax would "move production offshore.

The hearing was called to judge the impact of Obamacare on jobs. Even health reform act supporter, Urban Institute's Linda Blumberg said the law would force a shift in employment, and result in a "small net positive," though industries like restaurants would be hurt.

Tom Boucher, a National Restaurant Association board member and owner of Great New Hampshire Restaurants, said Obamacare will cost him an additional $200,000 a year, robbing a penny from the four cents on the dollar he profits. He already offers employees health care and plans to extend it to every worker covered by Obamacare, but said the added costs have prompted him to kill expansion plans.

"$200,000 is a real number," he said. And forget raises, he said. There will be "no wage increases to, say, cooks, because I have to spend it somewhere else," he said, referring to expanded health insurance.

The hearing came as the conservative trio of Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky pushed efforts to delay implementation of Obamacare until the economy starts to grow. "It could very well push us into a recession," said Cruz.

Lee and the others knew the Senate would kill their amendment to the continuing resolution, but he reasoned that "this is an important part of the process." Cruz told Secrets that he plans to target other federal programs for extinction that he believes are wasteful or harmful to growth.