White House: Delaying Medical Device Tax Would Be ‘Ransom’

The White House on Tuesday seemed cold to the possibility of delaying the medical device tax, even amid mounting speculation it will be the key to a final deal on raising the debt ceiling and ending the partial shutdown of the government.

White House Press Secretarty Jay Carney talks about President Obama’s meeting with Senate Republicans earlier in the day at the White House, October 11, 2013 in Washington, DC. The U.S. government shutdown is entering its eleventh day as the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives remain gridlocked on funding the federal government. (Getty Images)

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the administration is not interested in discussing the tax in the current context of negotiating a deal.

“Discussion of the medical device tax or other elements within the Affordable Care Act that lawmakers want to talk about in order to improve the Affordable Care Act we are willing to have,” Carney told reporters. “But not in the context of or as ransom for opening the government. That is why a provision like that appears in a proposal that seems to be going nowhere by House Republicans because it’s an effort to try to buy votes from tea party Republicans who shut this government down in the first place.”

The medical device tax is part of Obamacare, and amounts to a 2.3 percent levy on manufacturers of medical devices such as pacemakers. crutches and prosthetics.

The House GOP voted to ditch the tax, and the Democrat-controlled Senate voted to repeal it by 79-20. While the House GOP has asked for a repeal, but Senate Majority Harry Reid has insisted on a “clean” continuing resolution and debt ceiling increase.

Carney added, “We’re not going to pay a ransom, from the American people to the Tea Party.”

“When it comes to the medical device tax, I think it’s important to note, that those who portray themselves as paragons of fiscal responsibility and discipline often propose making that change without acknowledging the fact that it would raise the deficit,” Carney said.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met with House Democrats at the White House Tuesday, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) continued to work on details for an agreement.