Tuesday, November 13, 2007

SCHIP Must Sail, Darn The Cost

Since President Bush has scuttled this wayward threat to national solvency twice already, the spinmeisters are trying to spruce up the appeal. This is akin to dressing in an Easter dress and bonnet a sow. It is still a pig.

The title I think says it all on the new intent: Congress Aims to Snuff Out Tobacco Sales.

"I think the industry has tried to do things more quietly, largely because they obviously know how popular a tobacco tax is," said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA. The health advocacy group supports a proposed $35 billion increase in the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which a higher cigarette tax would finance.
House and Senate negotiators are trying to craft a veto-proof version of the bill. President Bush says he would veto it because it calls for a 61 cents-per-pack increase in the federal excise tax on cigarettes, taking it to $1.
The House came within about a dozen votes of overriding Bush's veto of a similar bill last month. The bill's supporters are offering to change program eligibility rules in hopes of picking up enough Republicans to make the revised bill veto-proof. The proposed cigarette tax increase is not at issue, leaders of both parties said.

They want a $35billion increase in SCHIP paid for by jacking up the tax on cigarettes from $0.39 a pack to $1.00 a pack. Or roughly a 256% tax hike. Suddenly the tax on one pack of cigarettes will be almost the same as three packs. Some addicts will keep smoking and further impoverish themselves; which could lead to cigarette smuggling from other countries along with tobacco addiction replacing other drugs as cause of robberies all in the name of supporting their habit. I doubt very seriously Congress will then fund tobacco clinics like they do with methadone, but if they could raise taxes they just might. Thereby creating another government dependency group.

But they are also talking of snuffing out tobacco sales, which means the funding for the SCHIP expansion literally goes up in a puff of smoke; so that means to keep this gravy train rolling in the future Congress will have to find other means of funding this, can we say a tax hike passed on to every taxpayer? I can and so can you. I think this falls under the heading of bait&switch. Members of Congress are betting voters lack enough sense and hence be unable to add 2 + 2, hoping to swindle voters in allowing this tax increase 'for the children's sake' only to land on smokers, but to find out later it being passed on to them because the number of smokers has dwindled or the smokers have gone outside the tax system for cheaper cigarettes.

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