Invacare's Mixon Frustrated, But Says Political Spending Worth It; Plus, an Update on Paulsen's Efforts to Repeal the Device Tax

November 9, 2011

2 Min Read
Invacare's Mixon Frustrated, But Says Political Spending Worth It; Plus, an Update on Paulsen's Efforts to Repeal the Device

When we cover political lobbying and funding efforts, we usually wrap up by asking if you think industry is getting its money's worth, or if you think the political tactics employed by the members of Congress—such as introducing legislation or holding hearings—are effective. So it was interesting to read the Cleveland Plain Dealer's examination of the lobbying efforts by one big-time industry donor, Invacare chairman Malachi Mixon. According to the paper, Mixon's company has donated a huge amount of money in recent years ($7.9 million since 2005, to be precise) without much to show for it. 

Invacare specializes in products that are used by senior citizens, like wheelchairs and oxygen tanks, and gets a lot of its revenue from Medicare. Thus, a great deal of its lobbying efforts have been directed at making sure CMS' policies are favorable to industry, though the company also works with issues that affect the industry in general, such as the infamous device tax. Despite the company's efforts, though, CMS has continued to move forward with its competitive bidding program and the device tax is still set to go into effect in 2013. 

That said, it seems from the article like Mixon wouldn't necessarily prefer to spend any less. As his company's lobbyist is quoted as saying, political donations aren't the kind of thing that show a hard return on investment. As much as I'm sure they'd prefer to be more powerful, individual legislators can't just snap their fingers and make things happen, regardless of how much money is donated to them; all they can do is try.

What it seems to come down to is this quote from the article:

"If we're able to get this sales tax turned around, that's $20 million a year, forever," Mixon says. "And that's a big item."

In related news, the Center for Responsive Politics' blog has an entry on the efforts by Representative Erik Paulsen (R-MN) to overturn the device tax, which we've discussed here before. The site, which tracks political donations, presents a tidy little summary of the interests that are supporting Paulsen, and includes an update on his bill to repeal the device tax, which is reportedly gaining support. There's not much new there, but it's interesting to see information about Paulsen's biggest donors and his actions in Congress collected in one place. If Paulsen is able to get the support to eventually repeal the device tax, that will, of course, strongly suggest that lobbying is indeed worth it.

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Thomas Blair

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