Levin Floor Speech in Opposition to H.R. 436

Jun 7, 2012

Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) today gave the following speech on the floor of the House of Representatives in opposition to H.R. 436:

This bill is mainly a smokescreen. It is an effort to cover up the failure, indeed the refusal, of Republicans to act on the key issue facing our nation—jobs and economic growth.

As Ranking Member, I sent a letter last Friday to Dave Camp, who chairs the Committee with jurisdiction over this bill, urging action on six major jobs bills within the Committee’s jurisdiction.

Extension of the section 48C Advanced Energy Manufacturing Credit.

Extension of the production tax credit for wind power and other vital advanced energy incentives.

Extension of the highly successful Build America Bonds program, which financed more than $180 billion in infrastructure investment.

Extension of 100 percent bonus depreciation.

Creation of a 10 percent income tax credit for small businesses that do create new jobs or increase their payrolls.

Extension of jobs-related expired provisions such as the R&D credit. 

The answer: silence and continued inaction by Republicans in this House. Another bill over which the Committee has some jurisdiction – the Highway Bill – remains unacted upon.  That bill would means jobs, millions of jobs. No action. The Republican House message is “our way or the highway” and that means no highways. It is June.  There is now the likelihood of no action or none before the construction season is over in numerous states. 

That inaction is not an accident; it is deliberate. It is implementing the goal stated 20 months ago by the Senate Republican leader: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” It is reflected in the recent interview by the House Republican leader.  Mr. Cantor said the rest of the year will likely be about “sending signals we have huge problems to deal with.”

Sending signals?

The American people don’t need and want signals – they need us to take action to strengthen the economic recovery.

We will hear today Republican efforts to describe the bill before us to repeal the tax on medical devices as a jobs bill. What it really is is another Republican effort to repeal health care reform—step by step, costing $29 billion. We Democrats want more Americans to have access to medical devices.  Health care reform helps do this by expanding insurance coverage to over 30 million individuals which indeed will help the growth and the innovation of the medical device industry. As was true for other groups with health care benefiting by the increase coverage, the medical device industry was asked to help pay for health care reform so it would be fully paid for, not add to the deficit. They signed a letter with others pledging: “we, as stakeholder representatives, are committed to doing our part to make reform a reality….”  The first signature on that letter is from the CEO of the Advanced Medical Technology Association. Now the Republicans are attempting to give the industry a free pass, contrary to their stated commitment, and the industry has not proposed any alternative to meet their obligation.

There is an effort to cast repeal of the tax as a small business bill. The 10 largest companies in this submarket would pay 86 percent of the taxes relating to nondiagnostic devices.  According to the Congressional Research Service, the 10 largest companies that manufacture medical devices had total company-wide profits on all of their lines of businesses (both devices and other products) of $42 billion in 2010 and $48 billion in 2011. And these companies had gross revenues from the sale of medical devices of $133 billion in 2010.

There was an effort to cast the bill as an effort to stop offshoring. But the tax applies to all covered devices, including those imported. The effort to cast this as a jobs bill involved allegations which were analyzed by a neutral source and found to be simply erroneous.  A Bloomberg analysis makes that clear:  “the study used by Republicans cites not evidence for the job-loss claim.”   Further, the study’s assumptions “conflict with economic research, overstate companies’ incentives to move jobs offshore, and ignore the positive effect of new demand” created by the health- care reform law. 

Before Rules, I asked that my substitute be placed in order to allow debate on two real jobs initiatives mentioned in my letter to Chairman Camp. A tax credit for employers that expand their payrolls and an extension of bonus depreciation. These two provisions would help create hundreds of thousands of jobs. Not speculative, but real jobs including in small business. This has not been allowed. 

So we have open rules on some bills that often mainly result in numerous amendments shifting some monies from one place to another in an agency, not often helping to create a single jobs, but a closed rule when it comes to bringing up provisions helping to create American jobs and economic growth.

This is further evidence of what is really going on here in this establishment.  A deliberate effort, now increasingly undisguised, to close the door on action to engender job creation and economic growth  before the election. November 6 is what is driving the Republican Congress. Politics, not people. This is not only cynical; it is indeed pernicious. We owe it to the American people to blow the whistle on this. Too much indeed is at stake.