Obamacare

Obama's First Tax Increase

|

This week Congress plans to vote on a bill that would dramatically raise the federal cigarette tax and use the money to fund an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).  Congress approved similar bills in 2007 and 2008, but they were vetoed by President Bush in one of the few decisions he made during eight years in office that were both courageous and consistent with limited-government principles. (His attempts at Social Security and immigration reform are the two others that spring to mind; perhaps you can think of more.) Barack Obama, who will be president next week, is expected to sign the SCHIP bill, despite his avowed reluctance to raise taxes in the middle of a recession. SCHIP costs have risen and cigarette smoking has declined since the last two times around, so either the expansion will be more modest, the tax increase will be steeper, or more money will have to be found elsewhere (such as in our children's future earnings, if Congress decides that the uncovered SCHIP costs will barely be noticed in a budget deficit that has already exceeded $1 trillion and may be closer to $2 trillion after the stimulus package Obama is pushing).

In a June 2007 column I explained why the SCHIP expansion is inefficient, in many cases funding medical coverage for children who already have it, and unfair, relying on a discriminatory and highly regressive tax that is not justified by the cost smoking supposedly imposes on taxpayers. (Smoking actually seems to reduce government spending, even if the analysis is confined to health care programs.) Later that year Ron Bailey warned that expanding SCHIP is a step toward (even more) socialized medicine, and I argued that the federal government should leave decisions about subsidizing children's medical care to the states.

Advertisement

NEXT: Your Friendly Paramilitary Police Raid Post

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Great! Taxes pay for srvices.

  2. He needs to raise taxes on the rich!

    A new story that Reason might not be able to cover up is Obama is going to close Guantanamo Bay as soon as he is sworn in. He ought to return it to Cuba too. That might have to wait until the end of the week.

  3. Is there any study of whether or not this program will be paid for long term? The way I see it, a large generation is entering their child bearing years, healthcare costs keep rising, smoking rates keep declining, and this tax would probably increase that decline. Am I missing something or is this just another program that politicians know will screw us, just not until they leave office?

  4. PFJ they are paying for it by taking the profits from poison sellers. Simple!

  5. Maybe the government should just persuade people who can’t afford children not to have them.

    A little money spent on sterilization and birth control might go a long way.

  6. A new story that Reason might not be able to cover up is Obama is going to close Guantanamo Bay as soon as he is sworn in. He ought to return it to Cuba too. That might have to wait until the end of the week.

    The related Google News cluster is here.

  7. You know; I gave up smoking back in Y2K. And as recently as a year ago I considered smoking related issues to be of concern because they touched directly on libertarian principles.

    But right now, in the early days of the fall of civilization that will usher in a thousand year “Dark Age” where mutants and zombies rule the crumbling ruins of once towering cities, I couldn’t give a shit what obstacles stand in the way of lighting up a butt.

  8. Amnesty International does get results. They marched for the closing of Guantanamo on Sunday January 11th 2009 and it will be closed by the end of next week.

  9. I am tired of this idiot impersonating me. Every one of my posts that is genuinely me will contain Google search results for Matthew Broderick.

    Fake me, you can fuck right the fuck off.

  10. Fake LurkerBold, just give it up. You are just a disgruntaled Corporatist who does not contribute anything here but noise.

    Even this noise is just to obscure the fact that Obama is getting Guantanimo closed while your people could not be bothered with it.

    I hope it becomes a museum to the world wide socialist revolution.

  11. Maybe Obama should have asked Bush to close Guantanimo Bay, like he did with smarter economic relief spending. But maybe he did not want the job botched or hundreds of innocent detainees slaughtered.

  12. As a smoker earning less than 250k a year I will receive a tax rebate for all increased tobacco taxes paid correct? Otherwise Obama has to veto this if he wants to keep his campaign promise.

  13. LoL, I can see it.

    *pop pop pop pop!!!!*

    As you can see, we’re in the process of closing the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay…

    *pop pop pop pop pop!!!*

    Sounds like they’re just about finishing up…

    *pop pop pop pop pop!!!*

  14. “A new story that Reason might not be able to cover up is Obama is going to close Guantanamo Bay as soon as he is sworn in”

    Well then all the inmates can come over and stay at your house.

    If any of them run off and cause any trouble we’ll hold you personally responsible for it.

  15. #, why are you propping up BigTobacco?

  16. Taxes are not high enough, and you guys stop imitating me or I will sick Bill Ayers on you.

  17. Let’s stop trying to lay “limited government” creds on Bush, shall we? If anything has happened during the past 8 years that in any way resembles Libertarian principles, it’s strictly coincidental.

  18. Well then all the inmates can come over and stay at your house.

    I don’t own my house. You will have to check with my Fascist Impearilist land LORD.

    I refuse to be a land owner.

  19. I’m sorry, I meant FascistImpearilist LandLord.

  20. Stop covering for Bush, you Nazi sympathizer. Bush limited the government way too much so it couldn’t help people like the millions who died on Katrina and also global warming killed them.

  21. Oh, silly #, weren’t you paying any attention at all during the election campaign?

    Only income taxes count as taxes. Did you sleep through the entire Joe the Plumber episode?

    If cutting taxes for people who mostly pay taxes other than the income tax is socialism, then raising taxes other than the income tax is a blow for small government.

  22. Joe has gone over to the authoritarian Militaristic Impearilists? You are going the wrong way Joe, stop believing these Reasonoids and fight against their lies.

  23. And real fake LurkerBold, you’re not fooling anyone. My fans know I’m the real me, and you’re not.

  24. Who is impersonating Joe?

    Can Reason put a hault to these fakes?

  25. I will use the bold so the good people who like taxes know its me.

    We’re going to raise taxes on all the companies and then they have to give us jobs and pay our welfare and there will be hope and change and only stupid lbertarians don’t like taxes and the government and the good thigs it does for poor.

  26. Especially to the faker who is impersonating me.

  27. The 4:33 post was NOT me.

  28. And real fake LurkerBold…

    Awesome.

  29. Don’t think you imposterators are fooling my millions of fans. There is only LurkerBold and they accept no substitutes.

  30. OK I am changing my name so people know it’s me.

  31. Lurkers and Bolds, I find your shenanigans unamusing. Stop it now, or your taints will get it.

  32. Fakers. Don’t you realize my fans won’t be drowned with my left wing goo if they can’t figure out whose the real LurkerBold.

  33. “If cutting taxes for people who mostly pay taxes other than the income tax is socialism…

    Well let’s see. The top 50% of income earners who pay most all of the federal income taxes are also paying all those other taxes as well. Are they getting a proportionally bigger tax cut because of that fact?

    No they aren’t so it is indeed socialism.

    The answer to alieviating the tax burden for payroll taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, etc. is an accross the board cut in those tax rates for everybody by all the levels of government involved in imposing them.

    Unless of course, the real goal is just to brig those other taxes up as an excuse to engage in more wealth redistribution.

  34. Ah, I see.

    If you don’t make tax cuts BIGGER for richer people, it’s socialism. Giving everyone the same sized tax cut is the equivalent of nationalizing industries.

    ‘Kay.

  35. Cutting the top income tax rate in half: not socialism.

    Eliminating the bottom rate: socialism.

    Right, Gil?

  36. Actually, paying for government services on anything other than a user fee basis is socialism.

    No one’s income is a “service” provided to them by government.

  37. joe,

    [oh why do I bother]

    Giving everybody the same tax rate is not socialism. Exagerating rates on different amounts is socialism.

    Now, the upper income rates are a lot higher than the rates for lower incomes. I know I am not bright enough to explain this to you, but cutting the higher rates to equal the lower rates requires bigger cuts at the top.

    [/oh why do I bother]

    No, I am not responding to your ‘snappy’ word game comeback.

    Gilbert Martin,

    I like your idea pretty good.

  38. “Gilbert Martin,

    I like your idea pretty good.”

    It has the advantage of cutting through the “fairness (i.e socialist) BS of the leftists who think they own the definition of that word. There is nothing “fair” about income or consumption taxes because neither income or consumption is directly correlated to the cost of specific government services received by an particular individual.

    User fee basis is how goods and services are provided in the private sector and there is no fundamental difference in principle as to why it should not be that way in the public sector as well.

    If it’s not fair for McDonald’s to charge customer A for a Big Mac consumed by Customer B, it’s not fair for government to be doing the functional equivalent of it either.

  39. PFJ they are paying for it by taking the profits from poison sellers. Simple!

    I like to point this out from time to time.
    Jim Fixx is dead at age 52.
    Keith Richards is still alive at age 65.

  40. Not only are you not bright enough to explain it tom me, Guy, you’re not even bright enough to have even a working definition of socialism.

    Progressive tax rates are socialist.

    mmm-kay.

  41. joe,

    You forgot one crucial point that Guy was making…

    If everyone is taxed at 100% of income, that is not socialist either…

    Who knew that communism wasn’t a variant of socialism? 😉

  42. tarran,

    Don’t confuse the boy. Of course a 100% tax is socialism. Of course, globally it would be international socialism.

  43. Socialist elements have been part of the American political/economic structure since its inception. Now’s hardly the time to start whining about them.

  44. Don’t confuse the boy.

    Guy, wait, so you’re saying that everybody being taxed at the same rate is, on occasion, socialist too?

    I must say that I disagree with joe, You aren’t dumb. You are, however, one of the most intellectually lazy motherfuckers I have ever encountered on the Internet. Which explains why so many people think you are an idiot.

  45. However, Jim Fixx looked better dead (at 52) that Keith Richards looks alive at 65. They both look better than me now though.

  46. Gilbert Martin should thank his lucky stars there’s no tax on stupidity. Wait…

  47. I should thank my lucky stars there’s no tax on ad hominem attacks.

  48. This week Congress plans to vote on a bill that would dramatically raise the federal cigarette tax and use the money to fund an expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

    Way to miss the really bad SCHIP tax increase: 53% taxes on cigars! To the barricades, comrades!

    Cutting the top income tax rate in half: not socialism.

    Correct.

    Eliminating the bottom rate: socialism.

    Not socialism strictly defined, but definitely a bad idea, enhancing as it does two bad things: forced redistribution of wealth, and the growth of a class that has a financial stake in larger and more intrusive government.

  49. tarran,

    Guy, wait, so you’re saying that everybody being taxed at the same rate is, on occasion, socialist too?

    When that rate is oppressive and unconcionable. 100% fits the bill.

    I must say that I disagree with joe, You aren’t dumb. You are, however, one of the most intellectually lazy motherfuckers I have ever encountered on the Internet. Which explains why so many people think you are an idiot.

    If you bothered to read what I wrote instead of being in hiplock with your buttboy joe you might realise what a moron you actually are.

    Intellectually lazy? Read any post I have made and tell me where I said anything you just made up.

    The whole time I have been here I have been an advocate of a reasonable, flat income tax rate if we are going to have an income tax at all.

  50. IIRC, the original topic was Pigovian, regressive taxes on smokers. Higher taxes haven’t cut the smoking rate over the past ten years. They have created a lively black market (with attendant violence and death), generated big Buck$ for terrorist organizations (if I understand the financial machinations, which I certainly may not).

    Financing SCHIP on the backs of smokers is reprehensible. Many smokers are in a low SES cohort. In Texas we’re currently funding the bloated education system. Most taxes and settlement monies go to general funds and only a minuscule portion goes toward quit smoking programs. Those are promoted by pharmaceutical companies and big tabac.

    BTW, if you think the tobacco companies are paying for the taxes and settlements, think again. They simply raise prices to consumers. Anyway you look at it smokers are hoisted on a variety of petards.

    If you’re a libertarian, contact your congress critters and make a noise about this wretched tax increase.

  51. thats rite! tax the people who actually get off their butts and work. lol, what a country. i hate those evil rich people who work for their money. we should all be able to sit back and draw a welfare check.now thats change we can believe in!!! what a country full of losers!!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.