Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tobacco Nazis

" The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday to raise federal tobacco taxes and expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The $33 billion bill would raise federal taxes on cigarettes, cigars, rolling paper and other tobacco products to help fund the expansion. Cigarette taxes would rise from 39 cents per pack to $1.

Congressional Democrats previously pushed to extend the program to uninsured middle-class children, but efforts were vetoed by President Bush, who wanted the federal program geared toward the poor. President-elect Barack Obama is expected to sign the SCHIP expansion if it gains Senate approval.

House Democrats backed the expansion saying it will bring health insurance to more uninsured children.

The federal tobacco tax increase, however, faces criticism from economic conservatives.

“Tobacco tax increases over the years have resulted in less smoking and therefore a decline in tobacco tax revenue. Tying the expansion of a government program to a declining revenue source is the sort of backward thinking that makes taxpayers scratch their heads,” said Steve Voeller, president of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club.

A group of conservative economic groups wrote members of Congress earlier this month saying continued tobacco tax increases scapegoat smokers and hurt retailers and other small businesses by sending buyers online where they often can avoid such taxes."


"Every legal tobacco product from premanufactured cigarettes and cigarette papers to cigars to roll-your-cigarettes, pipe tobacco, and smokeless tobacco will be taxed out the wazoo. Take roll-your-own tobacco. It’s currently taxed at $1.0969/lb. The Obama/Democrat S-CHIP plan would hike that to $24.62/lb. Cigarette taxes would rise from $19.50 per thousand to $50.00 per thousand for small cigarettes and from $40.95 per thousand to $105.00 per thousand for large cigarettes."

Ok, first of all, I originally supported this bill. As long as there's an overwhelming need for children's health care, then the state should take care of it. A state's existence is to protect the well being and health of citizens. Fundamentally, that is not off base. My qualm, both as a semi-conservative and a smoker, is how the government is planning to raise funds for this. I was having a discussion with my friend who is a veteran last night and he was telling me about all the weapons research that went on at his base when he was stationed there which included all sorts of sceintific weaponry that frankly didn't sound that necessary. You're telling me that cutting weapons research budget while maintaining a sizable army wouldn't free up enough money to significantly fund this bill without taxing the everyman tobacco user? Last summer, I started making my own cigarettes to avoid the rampant taxation in Illinois on commercial cigarette brands. Now the the federal governement wants to tax me out the ass for it? I recently placed an order that came out to $200 for 17 cartons worth of tobacco. Not even factoring how the company (a small one) would have to raise its prices to meet these new taxes, my order would have been $50 more at roughly $8 in taxes per pound of tobacco. To which I say, motherfuckers. Not only is this federal intrusion unfair and completely worthy of satire (Senator Finnister from Thank You For Smoking comes to mind) but the discrepancy between tax values is also questionable. Cartons of cigarettes and RYO tobacco will be taxed $6 and $7.80 respectively. Other forms of tobacco (cigars, snuff, chew, etc.) are taxed no more than $3 and, excluding cigars, taxed no more than $1.80 per pound. Why the massive difference?

As a smoker, the states started kicking us out of public places. People don't want cancer from second hand smoke, fine. I can live with that. But to fund a healthcare project with my money, when I don't even want fucking kids, because of a luxury habit that I am perfectly comfortable with even if I die in 45 years because of intensely fucking ludicrous. If the government doesn't want me to smoke, they should pay to educate me. But this spineless Democratic agenda to nail smokers and champion health care at the same times is the kind of bullshit move I'd expect from a shaky and misguided Democratic party. Obama can't veto this either since the whole party is behind it. And they're putting him in a really crappy position after all that campaign talk about not raising taxes. I'm fairly cranky about the whole thing myself, and have been ranting at roommates, neighbors, and anyone else who will listen. But I don't think my representative will...


1 comment:

Josef said...

very interesting, i'm pretty much on the same page as you in every respect. a cut in our defense program though would just never happen, ever. i can't even recall the last president who has done such a thing, maybe carter, but i could be dead wrong on that. especially with obamas administration, he has more pressure on him than ever to foresee/prevent an attack. if anything happens, regardless of if he could've done something about it, it will be a major blow to his administration. we've all heard some right winger or republican say, "well at least bush protects us and we haven't been attacked again." that expectation is all on obama now, and he will keep our defense budget high while fucking the smokers if he has to(and this is surely not the last tax hike we'll be seeing from obama, and probably not the last odd transfer of tax funding to unrelated programs either)