Ethically Crippled ‘Desperate Ed’ Royce Scares Seniors with Lie about ‘Wheelchair Tax’


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It is becoming clear that after Jay Chen absorbed his meaningless primary loss against Ed Royce’s $2.1 million onslaught of mailers — and then retooled and kept on gathering steam and coming right at him — Ed Royce completely (and only somewhat surprisingly) lost his composure.

Ed Royce as Dr. Strangelove fallen from wheelchair

Dr. Strangeroyce: “Because of the automated and irrevocable decision-making process which rules out human meddling, the Making Stuff Up machine is terrifying and simple to understand… and completely credible and convincing. “

He had $2 million left to spend (unless the big banks have dug deeper to help elect the man who three months ago was assuring everyone that he had things in the bag) and Chen was closing in on nearly $700,000 of his own.  That would be enough to tell his own story.  Plus, Chen had assembled a small army of excited young volunteers, who outclassed Royce’s highly paid mercenaries.  (This is how you know that Ed Royce is not actually “in the Tea Party” in any meaningful or the least bit admirable way.  His “grass roots” are plastic.)  So what’s a poor rich guy to do?

“Desperate Ed,” it is now clear, went into full-scale panic mode after Chen refused to wilt after the barrage of spending in the primary.  He apparently sent out an S.O.S. to his party:  “SEND ME PEOPLE WHO KNOW HOW TO LIE!”  Residents in CA-39 are now begin to enjoy the fruits of those efforts.  Big lies.  Stupefying lies.  Unbelievable lies.  Already discredited lies.  Lies sometimes so bad that they make you wonder why someone even bothered to tell them.

This is a real problem for me, a both a political blogger and a candidate, because I’ve got a lot of things to do and even more things to cover.  I haven’t even written about Irvine and Costa Mesa recently!  We still need to cover OCTA for three more weeks.  I’ve got twin scandals in South County with Diane Harkey and Mimi Walters; I’ve got the Lowenthal-DeLong race and Quirk-Silva against Norby; I’ve got intraparty fratricide in Santa Ana, and the most confusing City Council election ever in Anaheim, and the titanic battle for the very soul of Fullerton.  Do you think I have time to spend every day for the next five weeks slamming Desperate Ed for his audacious lies?  I DO NOT!

And yet — the man gives me no choice!  Take what was reported recently on Jay Chen’s website.  Desperate Ed’s new attack on Jay Chen (for which he found the only bad photo of Chen that I’ve ever seen, other than those I’ve taken personally), tacked onto the long discredited “Stealing $715 Billion from Medicare” fable — a LIE LIE LIE that you can read about HERE HERE HERE from factcheck.org,  is that Jay Chen allegedly favors … a new tax on wheelchairs!

Chen supports a new tax on medical devices seniors use - even wheelchairs. (Source: U.S, News & World Report, July 10, 2012).

ROBBING Medicare Funds and TAXING Wheelchairs.

My tipster tried to look up the source for this allegation and couldn’t find it.  It plucked a string in my memory, though.  I had heard of this somewhere before.  With the help of Google, after several arduous seconds, I found it.

Patients Will Not Pay a Wheelchair Tax Under Obamacare.  By , About.com Guide, August 29, 2012

The PPACA does impose an excise tax on medical device manufacturers. That means only companies that produce health equipment will pay the levy beginning on Jan. 1, 2013. Patients are not being directly taxed on items defined under federal law as durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and other supplies, or DMEPOS.

To quote the official Internal Revenue Service’s FAQ on the medical device excise tax:

Q. What is the medical device excise tax?

A. The medical device excise tax is a tax on the sale of certain medical devices by the manufacturer, producer or importer of the device.

Q. Who is responsible for reporting and paying the medical device excise tax?

A. The manufacturer or importer of a taxable medical device is responsible for reporting and paying the tax.

Q. Will individual consumers be subject to any reporting or recordkeeping requirements?

A. No action is required by individual consumers.

The IRS also links to a proposed that quotes directly from the Obamacare law in specifying that

“taxable medical device” does not include eyeglasses, contact lenses, hearing aids, and any other medical device determined by the Secretary to be of a type that is generally purchased by the general public at retail for individual use.

In short, neither pharmacies nor patients will be taxed on DMEPOS under the PPACA. MRI machine makers will undoubtedly pass the 2.3% excise tax on to a hospital purchasing a new diagnostic device, but who would that scare?

But why should you believe just one article?  Have another!  Here’s one from factcheck.org:

First the Republicans claimed President Obama’s health care law taxes “sick puppies,” and now Mitt Romney’s campaign claims the law taxes “wheelchairs.” Wrong again.

At issue is a new 2.3 percent excise tax on certain medical devices. The tax is set to kick in next year to help offset the cost of expansion of health coverage for the uninsured in the new health care law. According to the Romney ad, the law will mean “taxing wheelchairs and pacemakers.” The ad shows a picture of a manual wheelchair.

But Treasury Department officials say that under the proposed rules being finalized by the IRS, wheelchairs — both manual and motorized — will be exempt from the new tax on medical devices.

Ordinary wheelchairs would fall under the “retail exemption” in the proposed rules, an administration official said. According to the Internal Revenue Services’ “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” under the retail exemption:

IRS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: A device will be considered to be of a type generally purchased by the general public at retail for individual use if it is regularly available for purchase and use by individual consumers who are not medical professionals, and if the design of the device demonstrates that it is not primarily intended for use in a medical institution or office or by a medical professional.

Ordinary wheelchairs — like the one pictured in the Romney ad — are regularly purchased retail by the general public for individual use, and therefore fit that exemption, a Treasury official said. And customized, motorized wheelchairs will be exempt under the rules’ “safe harbor” provision, which states that “customized items” that are “generally purchased by the general public at retail for individual use” would be exempt from the tax. A public hearing on the rules was held in May, but Treasury has not yet finalized and released the rules.

Still not satisfied?  Just one more:

The ad’s claim that Obama’s health care law taxes wheelchairs is questionable.

The tax actually applies to medical device makers, not consumers directly. It helps pay for the health care overhaul’s expansion of health care coverage to 30 million Americans. The tax is aimed at U.S. sales of medical devices used chiefly by doctors and hospitals, such as pacemakers and CT scan machines. Exempted are consumer items like eyeglasses and kits for many blood tests that people can perform on themselves, as well as other medical devices yet to be specified.

The Obama administration says old-fashioned wheelchairs and the newer powered ones will also be exempt from the tax under proposed regulations being finalized by the IRS.

I’ll stop there; I have to save up energy for the next bogus attack ad.  One thing is clear for voters:

YOU CANNOT TAKE A SINGLE CLAIM MADE IN AN ED ROYCE AD
OVER THE NEXT FIVE WEEKS AT FACE VALUE.  IT IS VERY LIKELY
EITHER GROSSLY MISLEADING OR A PURE FABRICATION.

I know that this is hard for people to accept — but if we can teach our children not to take candy from strangers, we can also teach adults not to take fantastical lies from desperate politicians seriously.

The most positive thing I can say about Ed Royce’s ad is this: at least it’s an unoriginal cookie-cutter attack from the national party — the predictability of which allows Chen to know pretty much what steaming scoop of hooey Desperate Ed is going to serve to the voters next.  More along these lines, alas, no doubt to come.


About Greg Diamond

Prolix worker's rights and government accountability attorney and General Counsel of CATER. His anti-corruption work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, leading them to work with the Democratic Party of Orange County Chair and other co-conspirators (who had long detested the internal oversight his presence provided) to remove him from the position of DPOC North Vice Chair of in violation of party rules and any semblance of due process. He also runs for office sometimes. Unless otherwise specifically stated, none of his writings prior to that lawless putsch ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level. He tries to either suppress or openly acknowledge his partisan, issue, ideological, and "good government" biases in most of his writing here. If you have a question about any particular writing, just ask him about it and (unless you are an pseudonymous troll) he will probably answer you at painful length. He lives in Beautiful Bountiful Brea, but while he may brag about it he generally doesn't blog about it. A family member works as a campaign treasurer for candidates including Wendy Gabriella in AD-73; he doesn't directly profit from that relatively small compensation and it doesn't affect his coverage. He does advise some campaigns informally and (except where noted) without compensation.