Could a Democratic Concession on the Medical-Device Tax Let Republicans Save Face?

Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash.
National Journal
Stacy Kaper
Oct. 2, 2013, 10:05 a.m.

Rep. Jim Mc­Der­mott, D-Wash., said Demo­crats are strug­gling to find a way to let Re­pub­lic­ans save face and end the gov­ern­ment shut­down, and he sug­ges­ted that a solu­tion could be a con­ces­sion on the med­ic­al-device tax, which the Re­pub­lic­ans want to re­peal.

Mc­Der­mott, the rank­ing mem­ber on the Ways and Means Com­mit­tee Health Sub­com­mit­tee, told Na­tion­al Journ­al in an in­ter­view Wed­nes­day that he is con­cerned that Re­pub­lic­ans are con­tent to con­tin­ue the shut­down un­til the debt ceil­ing hits its lim­it in mid-Oc­to­ber and drives up the eco­nom­ic stakes.

“I call it go­ing on Cruz con­trol,” Mc­Der­mott said, re­fer­ring to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who is seen as fo­ment­ing shut­down fur­or. “He’s got us go­ing in a way that we are go­ing to go spin­ning down to the debt lim­it, and at that point I don’t know what hap­pens,” Mc­Der­mott said.

“My feel­ing is that we may go in­to all of that for a couple of days un­til the bond mar­kets start — and then some folks who are in the moneyed class in this coun­try say, ‘What in the hell is go­ing on? Stop this.’ “

Mc­Der­mott, a former psy­chi­at­rist, said that in con­ver­sa­tions in the House gym he has tried to un­der­stand the way his con­ser­vat­ive col­leagues see the en­dgame.

“They think that some­how it is go­ing to work out in two weeks when they get to the debt lim­it, then they’ll fi­nally have enough pres­sure, that they can get the pres­id­ent to cave,” he said.

Demo­crats are quick to pooh-pooh this strategy but the pro­spect is clearly dis­con­cert­ing.

Mc­Der­mott said that in polit­ics, when your op­pon­ent has a los­ing po­s­i­tion, the trick is to find a way to let him save face — which is something con­found­ing Demo­crats now.

“The old rule in the Chica­go play­ground was, when you’ve got your foot on some­body’s neck, don’t press, be­cause you might be on the ground some­time and you don’t want him to press on you.”

Mc­Der­mott said the game is the same on Cap­it­ol Hill. “What we are strug­gling with now is find­ing a face-sav­ing way of let­ting these guys get out of an im­possible situ­ation,” he said laugh­ing. “How do I let you lose so you don’t look like a fool?”

Mc­Der­mott sug­ges­ted a con­ces­sion on the med­ic­al-device tax used to off­set some of the cost of the Af­ford­able Care Act could be one op­tion to pur­sue.

“Does the tax on devices get rid of that? Is that the face-saver?” he pos­ited. “It could. It blows a $40-bil­lion hole in the fund­ing of the Af­ford­able Care Act, so I mean you could look at that a lot of dif­fer­ent ways. You could say, ‘Well, all right, that was the Sen­ate’s idea. House mem­bers, Demo­crats, nev­er thought it was a good idea in the first place.’ But there are a lot of dif­fer­ent ways to talk about that, so maybe that is the face-saver.”

What We're Following See More »
FOLLOWED CLOSED DOOR MEETING
Peña Nieto, Trump Trade Subtle Jabs in Statements
5 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Following their meeting, President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico and Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump, briefly addressed the media, with Peña Nieto subtly rebuking Trump's rhetoric. While he spoke respectfully about Trump, Peña Nieto did not back down, saying that free trade has proved effective and that illegal immigration into America from the south has decreased over the last ten years while the flow of people and drugs into Mexico has increased. Additionally, he stressed that Mexicans in America are "honest" and "deserve respect." Trump responded, calling some Mexicans "tremendous people" while saying others are "beyond reproach." Trump laid out five important issues, including the end of illegal immigration and the ability for either country to build a wall or border. However, Trump said he did not discuss who would pay for the wall.

LOWER COURT RULING STANDS
SCOTUS Won’t Restore NC Voter ID Law
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

A divided Supreme Court "refused Wednesday to reinstate North Carolina’s voter identification requirement and keep just 10 days of early in-person voting. The court rejected a request by Gov. Pat McCrory and other state officials to delay a lower court ruling that found the state law was tainted by racial discrimination."

Source:
SMOKIN’ AND SHOOTIN’
Court: 2nd Amendment Doesn’t Protect Pot Users’ Gun Rights
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS
CHICAGO DISTRICT
Woman Self-Immolates in Congressman’s Office
8 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Police say a woman walked into U.S. Rep. Danny Davis' office on Chicago's West Side, drank out of a bottle of hand sanitizer, poured the sanitizer over herself and set herself on fire with a lighter." The Democrat wasn't in the office at the time.

Source:
ASKS CONGRESS FOR $1.1 BILLION MORE
White House Grants $53 Million for Opioids
11 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday awarded 44 states, four tribes and the District of Columbia a combined $53 million in grants to expand access to treatment for opioid use disorders and ultimately aimed at reducing the number of opioid-related deaths." But HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell and drug czar Michael Botticelli both called on Congress to approve the $1.1 billion Obama has requested to fight the opioid crisis.

Source:
×