Protection racket

The Baucus health care bill contains a big new tax on medical devices and diagnostic instruments, equal to half the industry’s R&D budget. The Wall Street Journal tells the story of how it happened:

This tax also offers an instructive lesson in the perils of industry dealmaking in President Obama’s Washington. Convinced by the White House that legislation was inevitable, most of the health-care lobbies decided to negotiate and pay ransoms so Democrats would spare their industries greater harm. Sure enough, the device maker lobby, AdvaMed, was among the “stakeholders” that joined with Mr. Obama in a Rose Garden ceremony in May and pledged to “save” $2 trillion over 10 years to fund his program. . .

But the word on Capitol Hill is that AdvaMed’s tribute wasn’t handsome enough for Mr. Baucus’s tastes. The massive new tax—which wasn’t a part of any of his policy blueprints released earlier this year—is in part retaliation. Partly, too, the device makers simply don’t have the same political clout as the other big players, making them an easier mark. Old Washington hands are saying the device lobby made a “strategic mistake” by not offering Mr. Baucus more protection money, but the real mistake was trying to buy into the ObamaCare process, instead of trying to defeat its worst ideas outright.

(Emphasis mine.)

Our government is being run like the mob. “Nice industry; it’d be a shame if something happened to it.”

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