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Medical device tax repeal could return money already collected

REUTERS/Jim Bourg
U.S. Capitol

The power of lobbyists in our fine democracy is an amazing thing to behold. Brett Neely at MPR writes, “Republicans and many Democrats in Congress want to repeal the roughly $3 billion-a-year tax on medical devices that’s part of the Affordable Care Act. Undoing the tax will mean a big boost in profits for the industry. But there’s another business windfall buried in the bills that Congress is considering. Not only would the future tax be repealed, but the taxes already collected would be refunded. Any company that had paid the tax would get its money back.”

Martin Luther King Day’s “Back Lives Matter” protests got heavy coverage around town. In the Strib Kevin Duchschere (with others) writes, “The marchers, after trying in vain to get onto the freeway, had returned to University by way of Hamline Avenue, where they halted briefly to stage a ‘die-in’ on the overpass that crosses I-94. … At various points, leaders played music over speakers and sang, and over one 15-minute stretch led an impromptu dance party at Lexington Parkway. Ericka Cullars-Golden, the mother of Marcus Golden [killed by St. Paul police last week] and a member of the St. Paul police reserves, was among the marchers, saying she was there ‘to support everyone in the cause.’ At times, marchers broke out in chants of ‘Marcus Golden matters!’”

For MPR, Martin Moylan and Elizabeth Dunbar say, “Black Lives Matter Minneapolis released a list of demands a few days before the march. Among other things, the group wants an independent community board with disciplinary power to review police actions and bias and cultural competency training for Minnesota officers. Added to that list was a call for statewide adoption of police body cameras, which are already being used in Duluth and tested in Minneapolis. The group also wants Bloomington’s city attorney to drop charges against more than 30 people charged in connection with a protest at the Mall of America the weekend before Christmas.”

In the PiPress a team of writers add, “Blake Golden, a brother of Marcus Golden’s, spoke at the vigil, saying he is going to school to become a law enforcement officer and is to graduate in the fall. Their father, Scott Golden Sr., said he hopes his son can be part of a changed system, ‘so we don’t have these needless shootings.’”

Pat Pfeifer of the Strib gets a little bit more on that strange Apple Valley murder-suicide. “Crowley’s brother, Dan, talked to him by phone on the 16th or 17th of December, then dropped off Christmas presents on the 26th or 27th. Dan Crowley told Hendricks on Monday that the Crowleys’ dog, Paleo, popped his head up into the large front window. When no one came to the door, Dan Crowley left. He said he later called and texted his brother a couple more times, with no reply. … Komel Crowley was Pakistani, and her family in Texas didn’t approve of her marrying a white military-type guy, Hendricks said. Crowley and his family didn’t talk too much either … .” No one thinks it odd that the family hasn’t been heard from in nearly a month?

This doesn’t help their cause. The Strib’s Jeremy Olson reports, “A much-anticipated state study on the number of nurses required to provide safe, effective patient care in Minnesota hospitals fell short of its goals after hospitals failed to provide the data to answer key staffing questions. The lack of hospital participation drew fire Monday from the state’s nurses union, which hoped the study would fortify its negotiating position on the need for lower patient-to-nurse staffing ratios. … existing research doesn’t prove cause and effect, nor does it suggest that an immediate infusion of nurses in Minnesota’s hospitals would improve patient safety, Dr. Edward Ehlinger, state health commissioner, said in a Jan. 16 letter to lawmakers.”

Her tough year isn’t getting any easier. Says Randy Furst in the Strib about the wife of “American Sniper” Chris Kyle, “The widow of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle is facing growing blowback over her late husband’s bestselling memoir, American Sniper, now a hit movie and recently the subject of a defamation case by former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura. Taya Kyle had planned to give interviews this week to promote the movie and her Feb. 8 appearance at Beth El Synagogue’s ‘Heroes Among Us’ series, a major event at the St. Louis Park temple, with tickets ranging from $36 to $300. But on Monday, she canceled some interviews in the wake of criticism of her late husband’s behavior and questions about whether he should be considered a hero.

At this rate Phoenix will have one before we do. At SBNation Travis Hughes says, “More confirmation came Monday that the Boston Bruins will host the 2016 Winter Classic. We knew for a while that this would probably be the case, and that they’d likely host the Montreal Canadiens in the game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, the suburban Boston home of the New England Patriots. It’s expected to be officially announced at the All-Star Game in Columbus this coming weekend — and with it the realization that the State of Hockey will go another year without hosting the Winter Classic. We’re sorry, Minnesota.”

Speaking of hockey, a Wild fan with AAA seats got some internet action for a sign he wore around his neck taunting … Packer fans. Sarah Barshop at Sports Illustrated writes, “The sign read, “HAHAHAHA PACKER FANS.” The Packers lost a heartbreaker in overtime to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC title game after leading 16-0 at halftime. But, if this guy is a Minnesota Vikings fan, the team’s 7-9 record doesn’t put him in a great position to taunt Packers fans.”

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Comments (21)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 01/20/2015 - 06:36 am.

    Lobbyists

    “The power of lobbyists in our fine democracy is an amazing thing to behold…”

    Yes, indeed it is, and any doubts that our Congressional Representatives are for sale to local (well, one of them purports to be Irish) deep corporate pockets should also be alleviated, since the medical device industry is quite profitable, thank you, with the tax in place. Should it happen, refunding taxes already collected will simply be one more in a long list of corporate slaps in the face to human people. Surely, no one seriously believes that the windfall of refunding taxes already collected will be passed on to the patients who paid for those devices, and their taxes, in the first place. Do they?

  2. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 01/20/2015 - 06:51 am.

    The ultimate sucker punch

    Since when does killing from a hiding place and bragging about it make you a hero? Is there a less honorable way to kill in war? Getting rich off the taking of human life is not heroic. A hero does something heroic, not this. When we came back from Viet Nam, no one called us heroes who merely served there. Now America seems so in love with killing and the military that the threshold for herohood has gotten pretty low. The only long term accomplishment of our recent wars is to create more “terrorists” who hate America and Americans; that is the lasting legacy of these wars that Americans don’t seem to want to acknowledge.

    • Submitted by Jackson Cage on 01/20/2015 - 08:47 am.

      So soldiers aren’t heroes?

      Bill, even though you give an example, you fail to acknowledge the distinction between the people who decide to fight wars and those who do the actual fighting. Wars are a nasty affair, but to pretend they aren’t necessary is a fantasy. And the ugly business Chris Kyle was involved in was necessary and, yes, heroic. I’d agree with you that the wars in Viet Nam and Iraq were huge mistakes, but that doesn’t diminish the work of those who served.

      • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 01/20/2015 - 11:14 am.

        serving doesn’t make you a hero

        Sergeant York and Audie Murphy were heroes who saved their comrades in moments of combat when many would have freezed. They are heroes. I served in Nam and did nothing heroic. I am not a hero.

        The only reason to go into Afganistan was to crush Al Quida and get Osama. They could have gotten Osama early on but let him get away for political reasons. Since then all they have done is create new haters of America with their drones and prisons and torture and maltreatment and killing of civilians. Kyle did nothing but kill people from afar, a human drone.

        Those who start the unnecessary wars are supported in their mistakes by people who worship war and false heroics. People in America and the western European colonial countries fail to acknowledge how much their own actions have led to current events. Example: Iran’s hatred of us started with our support of the despot Shah who oppressed his people.

        The real fantasies are in the minds of people who think we can kill and oppress with impunity and then cry unfair when our enemies strike back.

        • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 01/20/2015 - 11:46 am.

          If you served in combat in Vietnam

          You were probably the recipient of sniper cover whether you knew it or not.

      • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 01/21/2015 - 10:26 pm.

        One culture’s hero is

        One culture’s hero is another’s villain. Perhaps Chris Kyle is neither one.

    • Submitted by Alfred Sullivan on 01/20/2015 - 09:36 am.

      Yes, a hero

      I’m sure the buddies, family, and friends of our soldiers who weren’t killed or horribly wounded because Kyle took out some of the enemy consider him a hero. Count me in that camp too. (And I’m not very much bothered that supposedly our revolutionary soldiers shot at the Redcoats from behind rocks and trees.)

      • Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 01/20/2015 - 12:31 pm.

        All sodiers….

        are heroes. I have a son who is currently on deployment in Africa with a bunch of other heroes. He’s probably safer there than in downtown Minneapolis on a Friday night.

    • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 01/20/2015 - 11:05 am.

      heros

      All soldiers are heros regardless of what they were asked to do. They sacrificed for us and need to be respected. The things he did may not be the best but he served with dignity and honor and sacrificed as every other soldier has done. Whether I agree with what he did nor not, I still respect him and call him a hero.

      • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 01/20/2015 - 11:21 am.

        so by your logic…

        The soldiers who tortured and humiliated prisoners in Abu Grabe (however you spell it) were heroes doing heroic things. As a Viet Nam veteran I say that people who never served and thus idealize those who do are mistaken in their hero worship.

        I won’t see that stupid movie and I don’t really know the circumstances of what the guy did, but when he turned his taking of human life into a reason to brag, when he used it earn money to make his life easier, he became an enemy of humanity in my book. “Hey look! I killed people; ain’t I cool? Yay me!”

        • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 01/20/2015 - 11:55 am.

          idealize

          Nowhere in my post did I idealize being a soldier or what he or any other soldiers have done. The fact is they sacrifice for us and need to be respected for it. They all have orders and are sometimes humans but deserve our respect.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 01/20/2015 - 11:44 am.

      Obama’s drone warfare

      So I guess Obama’s killing of innocent civilians via drone strikes make him the ultimate coward.

  3. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 01/20/2015 - 09:49 am.

    “Since when does killing from a hiding place and bragging about it make you a hero?”

    When the enemy who was sneaking up on your patrol with a hand grenade gets dropped like a sack of potatoes. Do that for me from half a mile away and I’d be happy to listen to the braggadocio all.day.long.

    • Submitted by Ray Schoch on 01/20/2015 - 10:58 am.

      Sack of potatoes

      This is one of those very rare instances when Mr. Swift and I are in complete agreement.

      The wars in question may have been terrible mistakes (I’m on board with Bill Schletzer about the long term “accomplishments” of our recent Middle Eastern adventures), but for the people on patrol, anything that makes their job easier and safer (“safe” being a very relative term in a combat zone) is likely to be greatly appreciated.

      Being a sniper is somewhat on the dark side, but no more so than the guy who’s setting off an IED under your vehicle with his cell phone from that same half a mile distance, and a sniper, almost by definition, knows who he’s killing. Bombers often do not. A sniper might have an ugly job, but war is full of ugly jobs, which is a very good reason to avoid warfare whenever possible. That said, soldiers don’t get to make those decisions. They get orders to do job ‘x.’ The evidence says Kyle did his job very well, indeed.

      • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 01/20/2015 - 11:34 am.

        somewhat on the dark side

        Good one. To excuse our atrocities by the atrocities of the other side is a bad idea. By that logic the other side can excuse the WTC because of the harm we had caused them. Bad is bad in an absolute sense. The trouble with war is it puts one in a situation of having to do bad to survive. I believe in all of these middle eastern wars we have started we have maimed and killed more civilians than soldiers. Where is the math in one dead dictator at the cost of tens of thousands of innocent civilians. And then the spin off when their relatives become terrorists to seek revenge. Revenge begets revenge, hatred begets hatred. These recent wars are about revenge and haven’t saved one additional American life, quite the opposite.

        Like my Audie Murphy example above sometimes guys in combat risk their lives to save their friends in moments of extreme stress and danger They are heroes. But this guy put me off with his book and his movie and his bragging about killing, something real heroes don’t do. And I don’t take his self-serving book and this movie as history. I have no idea the circumstances of each of his kills, if any may have been innocent civilians, what the real danger to his comrades was. I don’t excuse it because of some abstract general aura of danger that exists in a war zone.

        • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 01/20/2015 - 12:28 pm.

          I cannot, or more correctly said do not care to, understand where your understanding of “atrocity” comes from but I’ll tell you this:

          If you can honestly conflate the flying of an airplane full of unarmed civilians, engaged in the act of traveling into a building full of unarmed civilians, engaged in the act of earning a living with sniping armed combatants in the act of bloody combat you have removed yourself far from reality.

  4. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 01/20/2015 - 10:42 am.

    Example of ROI via political corruption: spend $30 million,…

    …get back $6 billion now – and then save $3 billion per year in ongoing profits. (See MPR story)

    You can’t get this kind of return, this kind of leverage from ANY other kind of investment.

    Before you spend on plant, equipment, and human resources to grow your profits, your FIRST DOLLARS should go toward buying up some Congressmen and Senators. In light of the money made by this medical device industry in this case vs. the money they spent, any other investment appears ignorant, by comparison.

    We’re getting the best government money can buy.

    • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 01/20/2015 - 01:46 pm.

      Truly one of the best examples of buying

      Congress in many years and a humiliating bipartisan effort to boot. A totally unnecessary give-away to an industry already leaving the country to the detriment of Americans who not only have to buy their products but also make up the difference in tax payments

  5. Submitted by Angie Berger on 01/20/2015 - 11:15 am.

    Ventura article

    http://www.mensjournal.com/magazine/the-body-slammed-20141230

    Good article in Men’s Journal this month illustrating what a cry baby Ventura really is. He claims he has received all of the blowback.

  6. Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 01/20/2015 - 11:58 am.

    Will the device companies…

    return the tax to those who paid it, the end consumers?

    And for the “Packer Backers,” your team was a huge embarrassment on Sunday. Maybe next year.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 01/20/2015 - 08:12 pm.

      At least they were still playing for something.

      What was the top golf score of any Viking player that same afternoon?

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