Newspaper article News Sentinel

Blackburn Errs in Stating Medical Device Tax's Impact on Job Losses

Newspaper article News Sentinel

Blackburn Errs in Stating Medical Device Tax's Impact on Job Losses

Article excerpt

Several members of Congress, including U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, recently gathered for a photo opportunity and to speak for repealing a health care law provision that applies to a 2.3 percent excise tax on the sale of medical devices.

Medical device companies such as Smith & Nephew and Medtronic are very important to Memphis and the state, but Blackburn's claim that 1,000 of the 10,000 workers in her district's medical device industry would lose their jobs at the expense of the tax sounded pretty drastic to us.

Blackburn aide Mike Reynard referred us to Life Science Tennessee's Workforce Development Survey, which includes as its third federal and regulatory priority "medical device tax repeal." Reynard also referred us to the conservative Manhattan Institute's 30-page analysis, "The Employment Effects of the New Excise Tax on the Medical Device Industry." Since we know some of the state's medical device industry jobs are in Johnson City, Chattanooga and Knoxville, and other places outside Blackburn's 7th House District, we can begin to quibble with Blackburn's suggestion that 10,000 are in her district, which stretches to connect suburban Nashville to suburban Memphis.

Figures for 2011 from the Department of Labor and Workforce Development indicate there were 236 medical device manufacturing establishments with 8,871 employees in seven Tennessee counties - or more than 10 percent fewer than Blackburn claimed were in her own congressional district.

Blackburn represents people in parts of two of those counties - Davidson and Shelby - and those counties employ 6,044 people in that category. In Shelby County, a large majority of those jobs has long been located in the mostly urban 9th House District, not the suburban and rural 7th.

Reynard said Blackburn didn't mean to say "in my congressional district," but rather that "she meant state." However, the video of the statement was still posted by the "RepMarshaBlackburn" channel on YouTube without any clarification, and other partisan websites were featuring it. …

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