Tuesday, October 02, 2007

More anti-logic - this time on SCHIP

Congress has chosen a source to pay for the bulk of their proposed $35 billion increase in the State Children's Health Insurance Program - cigarette taxes.

According to numerous reports, expansion of the program (which would allow families with income up to $82,000 to qualify) would be financed with a 156 percent increase in the federal cigarette tax, taking it to $1 per pack from the current 39 cents.

And this tax will impact recipients of the SCHIP program more than others. Low-income people smoke more heavily than do wealthier people in the United States, making cigarette taxes a regressive form of revenue. Nearly one-third of all U.S. adults living in poverty are smokers, compared with 23.5 percent of those above the poverty level, according to government statistics.

So we allow expansion of the program to those who are not 'low income' or in poverty by imposing a tax that impacts low income and the poor more than others. Where's the logic in that?

But the biggest anti-logic of this expansion is the lack of any discussion or debate about basic demographics and their impact on this bill - maybe because there is little sympathy, in Congress or the nation as a whole, for taxing such a vice.

So consider this: you've got the U.S. Department of Education, the Centers for Disease Control, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) all providing grants and funding for anti-smoking campaigns. There are numerous opportunities at the state level for anti-smoking funds as well. Everyone, it seems, is spending money to get people to stop smoking - or to prevent them from starting in the first place.

And then you have this quote from Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who said, during the House debate,
"And in order to get enough money to pay for this, it would require 22 million new smokers."

Spend money over here to get people to not smoke while spending money over there counting on an increase in smokers...Anti-logic!


Lisa Renee said...

You are right it's not logical and on top of that it's another example of selective targeting of one group of individuals to carry a larger tax burden than the rest.

In the past I've wondered what would happen if even larger numbers of smokers quit since the government seems to rely so much on this revenue.

Ben said...

the exapansion of this project would be a major plus for one person - HRC, as she will use it to push her health care plan forward.

Tim Higgins said...

Setting aside the discussion of the previous posting Maggie, you touch on something very close to my heart. The proposed bill would increased the tax on cigars by 20,000%, to $10 per cigar.

While I enjoy the cigars that I smoke, I will reluctantly give them up when the price goes up $250 per box. While this may make the anti-smoking lobby happier, but it will mean that my contribution to the 35 billion dollar price tag will have to be shared with the rest of my fellow taxpayers as the revenue generation from this tax disappears.

Lisa Renee said...

Wow Tim, that will really hit the cigar industry hard if the impact of the tax will be that severe.

Art A Layman said...

It is the fallacy of increasing taxes on smokers or any other target group who then may stop buying that which is taxed.

I am a smoker, cigarettes, and while I will not be happy about the increased tax but I likely will pay it and continue down my road to certain death.

King said...

anybody think maybe we should concentrate on lowering the cost of healthcare?

This SCHIP seems to just be throwing more money at a problem and not trying to fix the cause.

Maggie Thurber said...

And King gets a gold star!!!

Maggie Thurber said...

Peahippo left the following comment, but I've edited it to remove the profanity. (my blog - my rules - want to maintain my G rating....)

Classic thinking of modern government: "Let's tax the bajeezus out of this little vice ... they're only a minority anyway and they have no power. BWAAAAAHAHAHAAAHAAAHAAHAAA!"

*******. Why do we keep electing them?

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