Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen is urging President Obama to visit a medical technology company during his trip to the Twin Cities on Wednesday.
Paulsen wrote to the president over the weekend, asking for help to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s tax on medical devices.
Money raised from the 2.3 percent excise tax is intended to fund expanded health care coverage for upwards of 30 million Americans under President Obama's health care law.
But Paulsen has called the tax, which began in January 2013, a "tax on innovation."
Minnesota is home to hundreds of medical device companies that employ more than 30,000 people.
Last week, the medical device industry’s major trade group, the Advanced Medical Technology Association, released a survey that says the tax cost the industry tens of thousands of job in 2013.
“This industry is an American success story, but it is being hit especially hard by the Medical Device Tax that passed as part of the Affordable Care Act,” a portion of Paulsen’s letter to the president reads. “With your support, we can repeal this onerous tax and protect jobs, expand high-tech manufacturing here at home, and create and provide more life-saving and life-changing technology to American patients.”
In 2012, the Obama administration threatened to veto Paulsen’s legislation, but congressional support for a repeal is growing.
Paulsen’s bill has more than enough support to pass the Republican-led House, but Senate Democrats have thus far been unwilling to deal a blow to one of the president's signature legislative accomplishments.
Minnesota U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, both Democrats, have urged their colleagues to repeal the tax. The state’s entire House delegation also opposes the tax.
Here’s a copy of Paulsen’s letter:
A question about the Affordable Care Act led to uncomfortable silence for three Minnesota Democrats -- U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson and Tim Walz – during a town hall forum on farm issues this week in Mankato.
“I thought the Affordable Health Care Act was to save $2500 per family. What happened?” a resident asked the trio about President Obama’s pledge that the health care law would save families money.
After an awkward moment where the lawmakers shrugged and looked to each other for a response, Peterson grabbed the microphone.
“I voted ‘no,’ so I’ll let these guys handle that,” he replied, drawing laughter from the crowd.
Klobuchar and Walz acknowledged problems while defending the law, according to a report from KEYC News Channel 12 of Mankato.
“This health care discussion has got to be broader, it’s got to point out where there’s weaknesses and failures, it’s got to make sure that we’re not leaving people behind or distorting the system,” Walz said. “But don’t pretend that there was some type of safe harbor before this where everything was just peachy keen.”
KEYC issued a clarification Friday after Fox News aired a snippet of the video, claiming the lawmakers were laughing at a man’s frustration with the health care law. State and national Republicans also circulated part of the clip.
A statement from KEYC news director Dan Ruiter indicated that it was Peterson's quip, not the question about the health care law, that sparked the uproarious laughter.
“The story accused all three panel members of laughing at someone else's suffering. It also accused all three panel members of ducking the question. Anyone in attendance that day, or watching the story in its entirety that evening, knows that nothing could be further from the truth,” Ruiter wrote.
For Democrats running for Congress in dozens of districts, the Affordable Care Act could be one of the largest obstacles to their re-election bids in November.
Republicans seeking to knock off Peterson and Walz have hammered them on the issue. Peterson voted against the bill in 2010 but has since opposed Republican attempts to dismantle the law.
President Obama will visit the Twin Cities area on Wednesday for an event to discuss the economy, according to a White House official.
Obama’s visit will come at a time when a growing number of Minnesotans have expressed dissatisfaction with his performance as president. A Star Tribune Minnesota poll conducted last week found his job approval in the state has fallen to 43 percent.
The numbers are a sharp change from April 2009, when 62 percent of those polled said they liked how Obama was running the country.
Obama’s trip to the Twin Cities will come a week after Vice President Joe Biden visited Minneapolis to attend a Democratic fundraiser and meet with residents to discuss the Affordable Care Act.
Obama last visited Minnesota in February 2013 to pitch his plan to reduce gun violence in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn.
A White House official said details about next week’s visit will be released in the coming days.
Vice President Joe Biden turned heads and greeted fans during an afternoon visit to a downtown Minneapolis coffee shop to discuss the Affordable Care Act.
Biden, who is visiting Minneapolis for a private fundraiser, touched down at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport at 3:30 p.m. A few minutes later, he exited onto the Tarmac wearing a navy scarf, navy suit and striped tie. He saluted an airman who stood at attention before he warmly greeted a staffer.
The motorcade headed toward Minneapolis in deserted northbound lanes of I-35W north while southbound traffic slowed to gawk.
Office workers hung out of windows and snapped photos on an unseasonably warm day as the motorcade rolled through downtown Minneapolis, arriving at Moose & Sadie's cafe shortly after 4 p.m. Biden greeted cafe staff and customers before sitting down with Rachel Lozano, Julie Peck, Karen Kepple and Anna Olson Racer, all who have either benefited from the Affordable Care Act or are helping others get signed up.
"Don't get up," he said when they stood to greet him.
Biden sat down and leaned in, speaking quietly, his hoarse voice difficult to hear over the din of the cafe.
"Look, thank you for what you're doing," he told them, adding that between a serious car accident and brain anuearyam, "I've been a significant consumer of healthcare, and I'm not bragging about it."
During those hospital stays, "All I kept thinking about was 'Thank God I had all this insurance.'"
Biden added that the goal is to sign up seven million people by the March 31 deadline.
"We may not get to seven million, we may get to five or six, but that's a hell of a start," he said. "I'm here to say thanks."
After the visit, Biden was expected to attend a private Democratic National Committee fundraiser at downtown Minneapolis restaurant The Bachelor Farmer, owned by the sons of Gov. Mark Dayton.
President Obama has nominated Todd Batta, a senior adviser to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, to serve as the department’s assistant secretary for congressional relations.
In the role, the 2001 Winona State University graduate would serve as the chief liaison between Capitol Hill lawmakers and the Agriculture Department.
Pending confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Batta would succeed Brian Baenig, Vilsack’s current chief of staff and a former legislative aide for the late Sen. Paul Wellstone.