Thursday, March 5, 2009

Don't Break Your Mother's Back

"Step on a crack and break your mother's back" was the refrain years ago when kids actually walked, ran and skipped to school (through wind, snow, rain, sleet, and sunshine of course). We stepped lightly along the sidewalk because we really didn't want to break our mothers' backs.

But breaking backs, at least appropriate backs, is now in vogue...and it's all for the sake of the kids.

Little commented upon at the end of January when Congress passed a major expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) was a 61 cent per pack increase in the tax on cigarettes (to $1.066 per pack) and a 52.75% increase in the tax on each large cigar (capped at 40.26 cents each).

Now, no matter what you think of SCHIP (which I'm sure has many positives...although a big negative is its extension of coverage to middle class children already covered by private insurance, many of whose parents have, historically, immediately dropped private coverage), the tax on tobacco hits hardest the poorer, younger segment of the population.

In a web memo from July 2007 when MOCs (members of Congress) first proposed the tax increase, the Heritage Foundation documents this and points out that "Funding the expansion of a government health program through a tax on a toxic product with a declining revenue stream is not only paradoxical but also fiscally irresponsible ("

In fact, to sustain this tax revenue, Heritage declares 22 million new smokers are needed. Logically, socially responsible citizens should all light up, and certainly those anti-smoking ads that pop up regularly on TV should be banned for subverting SCHIP.

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