Taxes

More on Obama's First Tax Hike

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Yesterday President Obama signed legislation expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), relying largely on a 156-percent increase in the federal cigarette tax to fund it. As Americans for Tax Reform notes, Obama's support for the SCHIP bill violates his campaign promise not to raise taxes on families earning less than $250,000 a year. Here is how he put it last September in Dover, News Hampshire (emphasis added):

I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000  a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.

Not only does raising the federal cigarette tax from 39 cents to $1 a pack break this promise; as I explained in a June 2007 column, it is pretty much the most regressive way Congress could have chosen to fund SCHIP expansion, not only because excise taxes take a bigger chunk of income from the poor than from the rich but also because there's an inverse correlation between income and smoking. Furthermore, the beneficiaries of the SCHIP expansion will in many cases be more affluent than the people picking up the tab. How does any self-identified progressive justify this sort of income redistribution?

As I've pointed out before, the argument that smoking imposes a burden on taxpayers does not fly; if anything, smoking saves taxpayers money because it shortens smokers' lives, leading to less health care in old age and fewer demands on Social Security. And the paternalistic argument—that cigarette taxes help smokers by encouraging them to quit—is hard to reconcile with the claim that people do not really choose to smoke, since nicotine addiction overrides their free will. People who decide to stop smoking when the cost of the habit goes up plainly are in control of their behavior, which undermines the case for government intervention. The one positive thing that can be said about Obama's support for this tax hike is that he'll be paying it too, though he is quite well off and his occasional cigarettes won't put much of a dent in his budget.

More Reason coverage of SCHIP expansion here and here.

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  1. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase.

    What do the first three words of this sentence mean?

  2. A proposal for the SCHIP ads surely forthcoming:

    My name is Barack Obama and I approved this regressive tax increase.

  3. That he’d veto anything not consistent with his plan?

  4. joe,

    Once you are president, any bill you sign is part of your plan. Thats the way the rules work.

  5. What Pro Lib said too.

  6. OK, just so we’re clear: now taxes that lower-income people pay, but which aren’t income taxes, ARE taxes?

    Have I got that right?

    The big refundable tax credit Obama is giving to lower-income people is NOT going to “people who don’t pay taxes,” now. Right?

    We’re all agreed on that now, right? We’re not going to see that assertion being made anymore.

    Right?

  7. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase.

    What do the first three words of this sentence mean?

    That every word that follows it is a lie?

    This is too easy joe.

  8. robc,

    Once you are president, any bill you sign is part of your plan. What about when you’re a candidate, talking specifically about your tax proposal?

    Pro Libertate | February 5, 2009, 12:09pm | #

    That he’d veto anything not consistent with his plan?

    Ummmm…what? Presidents veto anything not consistent with their own plans? The hell?

  9. Why all this sudden movement?

  10. joe,

    When have I ever disagreed with this. Everyone except the occassional idiot has always called FICA a tax.

    Stop arguing with the straw man libertarian in your mind.

  11. Presidents veto anything not consistent with their own plans? The hell?

    I would.

    Ron Paul would.

  12. goalposts wins the thread!

  13. Look, I just want to know what we’re arguing about here.

    Is this a pedantic point about whether or not Obama has violated the letter of his promise?

    Or this a substantive discussion about his tax policies being consistent with his stated position of lowering the tax burden on lower-income people?

    Because I’m perfectly comfortable either way – looking pedantically at the words he actually said and parsing them closely, or considering what he meant about the effect of his tax policies.

    I just want to know which argument is being made.

  14. OK, just so we’re clear: now taxes that lower-income people pay, but which aren’t income taxes, ARE taxes?

    Tell that to Obama and the Democrat Party congress joe. You might have found someone here who said that but you are attributing it to everyone. You accused me of saying “poor people don’t pay taxes” for months. Use your search feature and find it dickhead.

  15. Don’t give me that crap, robc. You were here on all of the threads about Barack Obama’s tax credit going to “people who don’t pay taxes.”

    A whole lotta libertarians, or at least people who claimed on these threads to be libertarians, made that argument out his socialist plan to take money from Joe the Plumber and give it to – not the quotation marks – “people who don’t pay taxes.”

    Don’t give me that revisionist crap.

  16. joe,

    Why cant it be both? Your insistence that threads by on a single topic is frickin annoying.

  17. goalposts wins the thread!

    There’s goalposts here? Is that what that buzzing blur is?

  18. There’s no chance in hell I’m searching for any part of your dick, SIV.

    Tell that to Obama and the Democrat Party congress joe. You mean the ones who voted for Obama’s “socialist” tax rebate for “people who don’t pay taxes?”

    Why would I tell them that? They’ve been pushing for a big tax rebate for “people who don’t pay taxes” for months. It was even discussed here once or twice.

    But I seem to have gotten my answer: “Yes, joe, taxes other than the income tax are taxes. Therefore, Obama’s proposal to cut those taxes by including a big tax credit to lower income people along with middle-income people is NOT a proposal to give money to ‘people who don’t pay taxes.'”

    OK. That’s all I wanted to hear.

  19. joe,

    You know and I know that people use shorthand. Quite often “people who dont pay taxes” is shorthand for “people who dont pay income taxes” as distinguished from payroll taxes, or sales taxes, or etc. Hell, if you bought anything, you (probably) paid a tax.

    Your inability to read between the lines and expecting others to do the same with you is also annoying.

    Now, some people do mean it because they dont consider FICA to be taxes. You find those people more amongst liberals in SS debates though. But not you, you are consistent on that.

  20. Why cant it be both?

    I can do both arguments at the same time. Wouldn’t be the first time.

    Just as long as we’re not going back and forth in each argument whenever it get tough.

  21. Income tax rebates should come from income taxes paid.

    Payroll tax rebates should come from payroll taxes paid.

    Sales tax rebates should come from sales taxes paid.

    If you refund payroll taxes as part of a general tax rebate, you have to make sure you subtract from their SS credits too.

  22. Cigarette taxes are especially hypocritical for most leftist because most leftist espouse the idea that cigarettes are a near unbreakable physical addiction fostered upon the naive and uneducated by evil tobacco corporations. In this view, cigarette smokers are victims of corporate greed.

    Obviously, if smokers can’t choose when to start smoking because they’re hypnotized by corporate marketing and can’t choose to stop smoking because of the physical addiction, then it is pure exploitation to tax them for someone else’s benefit. In this model, smokers do not have a vice but rather a disease-like condition they cannot voluntarily control. Higher taxes on cigarettes only help smokers in a model in which smokers can choose when to start and stop smoking.

    In this and so many areas we see the pattern wherein leftist choose the model of a problem based not on compassion for others but rather for how that model justifies increasing the power and status of leftist. In this case, Obama wants to create dependency on the state by controlling whether children receive health care or not. He needs the money so he’s going after people who in a different debate he would frame as complete victims.

  23. The other problem with cig taxes is that when people quit smoking or smoke less in response, your revenue will fall short of what you were expecting.

    Dollars to donuts the projections for funding SCHIP are assuming Americans continue smoking at the same rate even though it becomes more expensive.

  24. Well, more to the point, whether this is part of his “plan” or not (he signed it into law, and that means it must have become part of his plan) is that the Obama administration if it follows his “plan” will continue the byzantine system of taxation we have in the U.S., further entrenching the maze we call a tax system. This means that the lottery characteristics associated with the tax system will continue unabated and that we’ll continue to fall further behind countries with more advanced tax systems.

  25. Quite often “people who dont pay taxes” is shorthand for “people who dont pay income taxes” as distinguished from payroll taxes, or sales taxes, or etc.

    “Barack Obama wants to take money from people like Joe the Plumber and give it to people who don’t pay taxes. It’s a socialist redistribution scheme.”

    I don’t think the excision of the word “income” from that statement is shorthand, because the entire argument collapses if you acknowledge that people pay other taxes.

  26. Congress made me do it! And I would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids.

    joe,

    Everyone knew that Obama was intentionally misrepresenting the truth when he kept talking about taxes not increasing for the middle class. It wasn’t possible, given the other commitments he was making. Whether you want to parse his words to mean something else, the meaning during the campaign was clear: “American middle class, your federal taxes will not increase if I’m elected!” Finis.

    No surprise, and he’s no different than any other candidate who lies or half-truths himself into office.

  27. joe,

    Since you are up for both:

    Is this a pedantic point about whether or not Obama has violated the letter of his promise?

    Yes it violated the pedantic point, because any bill he signs is part of his plan (as covered above).

    Or this a substantive discussion about his tax policies being consistent with his stated position of lowering the tax burden on lower-income people?

    Unless he quickly comes up with some other offsetting tax cut quickly, it also is inconsistent with this general idea.

  28. joe,

    Oh, and I too agree that FICA is a tax. Of course, that is not the way that I have seen it defended; it is generally defended in my experience as if it were some sort of annuity. Furthermore, it is rarely ever mentioned that the funds from FICA are used for general revenue. So if people have a misperception about the nature of FICA I think that the general mileau in which it is discussed significantly encourages that.

  29. Tell that to Obama and the Democrat Party congress joe. You mean the ones who voted for Obama’s “socialist” tax rebate for “people who don’t pay taxes?”

    joe poor people pay taxes.Why do you think they don’t? You are the only one here saying “poor people don’t pay taxes”.I understand you prefer arguing with yourself as it is hard for you to lose that way.

  30. Income tax rebates should come from income taxes paid.

    Payroll tax rebates should come from payroll taxes paid.

    Sales tax rebates should come from sales taxes paid.

    If you refund payroll taxes as part of a general tax rebate, you have to make sure you subtract from their SS credits too.

    Why? What is so magical about how each tax is levied, that it is unconscionable to accomplish a broad tax-reduction scheme using the most readily-available tool for refunding excess collections?

  31. joe,

    I don’t think the excision of the word “income” from that statement is shorthand, because the entire argument collapses if you acknowledge that people pay other taxes.

    Come on joe, how many libertarians ever referred to joe the plumber? Your confusion of conservatives and libertarians is also also annoying.

  32. Seward,

    Agreed. It would be better to scrap this cigarette tax, and fund this program through an increase in the income tax, if a tax is necessary to cover its costs.

    Any thoughts on why the avenue wasn’t pursued?

  33. joe,

    Why? What is so magical about how each tax is levied, that it is unconscionable to accomplish a broad tax-reduction scheme using the most readily-available tool for refunding excess collections?

    Really joe, RIF:

    If you refund payroll taxes as part of a general tax rebate

    I never complained it was unconsionable to due a a broad tax-reduction scheme. Hence, “general tax rebate”.

    I like general tax rebates, but they should be done generally. Not as part of the income tax (like EITC).

  34. Any thoughts on why the avenue wasn’t pursued?

    Because it wouldnt succeed?

    I fucking hate tricksy politicians who are afraid to argue there position straight forward. If you need more money, raise the income tax and defend your position to the people. If they shoot you down, then maybe SCHIP (or whatever) doesnt need to exist.

  35. Pro Lib,

    You are aware that the stimulus bill includes the refundable tax credit he was talking about throughout the campaign, which makes his tax policy a large tax cut for low income people, right?

    “American middle class, your federal taxes will not increase if I’m elected!” And that is precisely what his tax policies are doing. Quite the opposite, he’s proposing a substantial tax cut for them.

  36. ha ha joe is once again proven dead wrong.

  37. joe,

    The tax increase has passed. The tax cut hasnt.

  38. Order of operation matters too.

  39. robc,

    Yes it violated the pedantic point, because any bill he signs is part of his plan (as covered above). Except this is factually incorrect. Presidents sign things that weren’t part of their plans all the time. Do you think “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was part of Bill Clinton’s plans? Do you think the increase in marginal tax rates that Poppy Bush signed was part of his plan?

    You are factually incorrect.

    Unless he quickly comes up with some other offsetting tax cut quickly, it also is inconsistent with this general idea. You mean like the big tax credit he proposed during the campaign? The one that was his topic when he gave the quote in the post? The one included in the stimulus bill? Mission Accomplished!

  40. joe,

    You can make an argument that payroll taxes are not true taxes because you expect to get back every penny you pay in plus interest. In theory, they are structured as pension and insurance systems. If you had the exact same setup in the private sector, those payments would be taxed as assets. Income, corporate, sales,etc taxes come with no obligation by the state to pay you back for your “contribution”.

    This is another example of leftist using two different models of the same program based on the story they want to sell at the moment. When they’re opposing social security privatization and the like, why payroll taxes are a rock solid investment for workers who can expect to get a good return on every penny they put in. When it comes to lower taxes or refunds, payroll taxes become a cruel tax under which workers are crushed by regressive taxation.

    Make up your mind.

  41. What do the first three words of this sentence mean?

    “The BS I’m spouting at this moment to get elected is…”

    And of course, I feel the need to link to this:

    sage | November 6, 2008, 10:28am | #

    You know, I like joe, and he makes very intelligent arguments. But I have a feeling things are going to get very difficult for him on this blog. It’s been easy to hate Bush since most of us don’t like him either. But when a lot of Obama’s ideas are exposed to the light they are going to look very ugly, and hard to defend.

  42. Do you think “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was part of Bill Clinton’s plans? Do you think the increase in marginal tax rates that Poppy Bush signed was part of his plan?

    Yes. Yes. The 2nd is why he didnt get my vote in 1992. I read his lips in 1988.

  43. Let me just predict right now that the net effect will be that the middle class pays more at the end of this administration than at the beginning.

    Talk is cheap; government programs are not.

  44. SIV,

    joe poor people pay taxes.Why do you think they don’t? I don’t think that. I think exactly the opposite, and am quite enjoying this opportunity to hammer away at the idea that they do not. It was rather annoying to hear that inaccurate statement made so vehemently during the recent presidential campaign, and I am happily driving a stake through its heart.

    robc,

    Come on joe, how many libertarians ever referred to joe the plumber? I’ve seen any number of self-proclaimed libertarians make such a reference, and do so as part of the “people who don’t pay taxes” argument. Now, if this is a point about “real libertarians,” I’ll pass.

    Also, while I’m up for a pedantic discussion here, I’ll pass on spending a dozen posts going back on forth on the difference between a “general tax rebate” and a “broad tax reduction scheme.”

  45. Mission Accomplished!

    House.

    Not senate (yet).

    Not house and senate again.

    Not signed yet.

    Your definition of accomplished is different from mine.

  46. robc | February 5, 2009, 12:33pm | #

    joe,

    The tax increase has passed. The tax cut hasnt.
    robc | February 5, 2009, 12:34pm | #

    Order of operation matters too.

    The tax increase goes into effect on April 1. The tax cut will be for calendar year 2009, meaning it goes into effect before the tax increase.

  47. Can we legalize marijuana and tax the hell out of it too?

    After all, it’s for the children.

  48. Shannon,

    joe is not like most liberals on FICA taxes. He is consistent.

    Its why he is beating the point home. He refused to acknowledge that we are consistent too.

    joe,

    Now, if this is a point about “real libertarians,” I’ll pass.

    I almost made a “true scotsman” joke when posting that.

  49. The tax cut will be for calendar year 2009, meaning it goes into effect before the tax increase.

    IF it passes.

    He could have waited to sign Schips after that passed*, that is my point.

    *yeah, yeah, he cant control what order congress passes things, but he could have asked them to sit on it for a few months.

  50. Shannon Love,

    You can make an argument that payroll taxes are not true taxes because you expect to get back every penny you pay in plus interest. Wouldn’t this compel you to argue that Ratheon doesn’t pay any taxes? Or anyone serving in the military?

    In theory, they are structured as pension and insurance systems. If you had the exact same setup in the private sector, those payments would be taxed as assets. No, they aren’t. No, they wouldn’t. All of the money collected through FICA is either spent on the programs’ expenses, or put into the general fund and spent on something else. Social Security and Medicare are pay-as-you-go systems; there’s no asset.

    This is another example of leftist using two different models of the same program based on the story they want to sell at the moment. I’ve always said that payroll taxes are taxes. That’s why they’re called payroll taxes. The only ones using two different models are those who used to insist that people who don’t pay income tax “don’t pay taxes,” and who are now bemoaning the taxes they pay.

  51. The tax increase goes into effect on April 1. The tax cut will be for calendar year 2009, meaning it goes into effect before the tax increase.

    Assuming it passes, doesnt this depend on how much someone smokes?

    If they smoke enough, they will get a net tax increase.

  52. The only ones using two different models are those who used to insist that people who don’t pay income tax “don’t pay taxes,” and who are now bemoaning the taxes they pay.

    Okay, joe, you need to be careful with your language. Just because you get it right doesnt mean that other liberals done.

    “the only ones” is flat out wrong. They are a small subset of those who get this wrong.

  53. The main benefit of higher cigarette taxes is to discourage teens from getting addicted in the first place, and it works. Of course Reason would bitch about any tax increase, but this one addresses the problem of insuring children without imposing taxes on work and investmentment. That’s the reality, though your tobacco sponsors don’t like it.

  54. It seems clear that President Obama left himself a big loophole with those three little words, “under my plan.” Literally, that means, “the plan I’m proposing now, during the campaign.” If he comes up with a *new* plan while in office, then that isn’t the same plan he was referring to in his campaign speeches.

    Likewise, when President Clinton’s lawyer, during the Pres’s deposition, said “there is no sex,” then that was fully accurate. He wasn’t having sex during the deposition, was he?

    Furthermore, the reference to “any of your taxes” meant “net tax burden.” Some of your FICA taxes will be refunded, but of course if you’re a smoker you will have to give some of that refund back to help pay for childrens’ medical care. Nowhere did Obama say that he would cheat *children* out of the medical care they need. Can you look into the eyes of these children and say that you’re taking away their health care because of some literalistic interpretation of some promise the President may or may not have made before he assumed the high responsibilities of his office?

    This stuff is easy.

  55. sage,

    I find both the extension of SCHIP and a tax cut for lower income people very, very easy to defend. I’m not sure why you felt the need to link to that.

    robc | February 5, 2009, 12:40pm | #

    Mission Accomplished!

    House.

    Not senate (yet).

    Not house and senate again.

    Not signed yet.

    Your definition of accomplished is different from mine.

    See the comment immediately following yours.

    He refused to acknowledge that we are consistent too. I acknowledge that many of you are consistent. If the charge of hypocrisy doesn’t apply to you, if you never made the argument “Obama wants to give a tax rebate to people who don’t pay taxes, then it doesn’t apply to you. There are many, many people it does apply to.

    IF it passes. Oh, I’d say the tax-cut portions of the bill are certain to pass. Regardless of what the final stimulus bill looks like, it’s a certainty that that will be in there.

  56. children cant smoke. It is already illegal therefore it never happens.

  57. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase.

    What do the first three words of this sentence mean?

    Ah, joe, ever ready to do the Parsin’ President’s dirty work.

    Shame on the marks for not spotting the loophole! Right, joe?

    Or this a substantive discussion about his tax policies being consistent with his stated position of lowering the tax burden on lower-income people?

    That’s not what he said, joe. He said any form of tax increase, and then listed them item by item. He didn’t say “on net” or “in total.” He said none of your taxes will go up, not that some will go up and some will be cut.

  58. Okay, joe, you need to be careful with your language. Just because you get it right doesnt mean that other liberals done.

    Point taken. There are liberals who make that claim. I was rebutting Shannon’s assertion that “this” – meaning, my argument – is an example of such.

    And thank you for certifying my bona fides on this.

  59. There are many, many people it does apply to.

    They arent in this thread arguing with you. Wait until someone makes that argument before you whip that out.

  60. That’s not what he said, joe. He said any form of tax increase, and then listed them item by item. He didn’t say “on net” or “in total.” He said none of your taxes will go up, not that some will go up and some will be cut.

    Nice catch.

  61. Mad Max | February 5, 2009, 12:51pm | #

    It seems clear that President Obama left himself a big loophole with those three little words, “under my plan.” Literally, that means, “the plan I’m proposing now, during the campaign.” If he comes up with a *new* plan while in office, then that isn’t the same plan he was referring to in his campaign speeches.

    Which is why it’s pointless to parse the quote provided above in order to shout “He broke a promise!” instead of looking at the actual substance of his tax policies; a clever politician can always out-parse an audience, and be right on the semantic point.

  62. Dollars to donuts the projections for funding SCHIP are assuming Americans continue smoking at the same rate even though it becomes more expensive.

    The projections are for an additional $8 billion in revenue. The excise tax currently draws about 6 billion. 61/39 * 6 = 9.3. So part of the projection does include about a 15% drop in smoking.

  63. In sum: Whom do you support – children in need of health care, or some filthy, phlegm-couthing nicotine addict whining about some alleged “broken campaign promise” because the ungrateful wretch has to pay back part of his tax refund? He could have kept the *entire* refund if he had obeyed the laws of God and abstained from his disgusting and unhealthy vice. Smoking, I mean.

  64. I was rebutting Shannon’s assertion that “this” – meaning, my argument – is an example of such.

    I was fine with that, then you went on and said “the only ones”. Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. If we are going to make pedantic arguments….

  65. Shame on the marks for not spotting the loophole! Right, joe?

    No, quite the opposite, good for them, and for Obama, for looking at the meaningful point, instead of being tied up in pointless word games.

    Barack Obama is cutting taxes for lower income people. Their tax burden will be lower.

    The weaseling some are engaging in here in order to score partisan points is a good demonstration of who does, and who does not, actually care about reducing their tax burden.

    He said any form of tax increase, and then listed them item by item. He didn’t say “on net” or “in total.” He said none of your taxes will go up, not that some will go up and some will be cut. He also said, “Under my plan,” if you feel the need to parse it that far.

    Like I said, microscopic parsing, substantive meaning, I’m comfortable with either argument.

  66. They arent in this thread arguing with you. Wait until someone makes that argument before you whip that out.

    Just a little preventive medicine. A stitch in time saves 9.

  67. It’s a “good catch” to notice part of the sentence, but a dirty liberal trick to notice a different part.

    Uh huh.

  68. Joe

    Social Security and Medicare are pay-as-you-go systems; there’s no asset.

    Every financial instrument is pay-as-you-go by your definition. When you put money in a bank, that money is immediately loaned to someone else, You asset is merely the banks obligation to pay you back the money, plus interest, at some point in the future. Likewise, debts owed to a company e.g. mortgage payments, are considered part of it’s assets for accounting and tax purposes. The governments obligation to pay people back, as individuals, based on their the level of their contribution, makes payroll taxes an form of asset.

    At the very least it makes them profoundly different from any other form of taxation because in no other form of taxation is the benefit you receive form the state linked to the amount you contribute. A billionaire drives down the same roads as a poor person.

    SS most resembles an non-transferrable annuity. You make payments into an annuity and in return in the future receive a specific level of return every year. Annuities are considered assets.

  69. “Look, I just want to know what we’re arguing about here.”

    Why must you argue? Why not just discuss? You know, compare and contrast? That is what sane people do.

    What is wrong with you that drives you to argue? Why the need to dominate? Were you molested as a child? Are you seeking any help to overcome your psychological disorder?

  70. joe,

    Substantive meaning doesnt imply in net to me. Substantive meaning implies none will increase. If he hadnt gone to the trouble of listing them all, I would agree with you. But he did.

    Yeah, it was a good catch to catch the part you did, but you already had kudos for it, so you didnt need them. 🙂

    However, I think the “my plan” part is much more parsing than the list of all the taxes that wont be raised.

    And dont call us partisan – us libertarians are bipartisan when it comes to slamming presidents. Bipartisan not being the same as nonpartisan, if you parse carefully.

  71. Apparently, this language in joe-land:

    no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.

    Means:

    Barack Obama is cutting taxes for lower income people. Their tax burden will be lower..

    So, “any form of tax increase” = “lower tax burden overall”.

    OK, joe, continue to spin.

  72. So part of the projection does include about a 15% drop in smoking.

    Just realized this – if true – would result in states losing 15% of there cig tax money.

  73. “A billionaire drives down the same roads as a poor person.”

    That’s just so full of holes.

  74. How is raising a tax not raising “any of your taxes”?

  75. Why are you asserting that we should interpret “under my plan” in an extremely narrow way, while considering the phrase “any form of tax increase” in the broadest possible context?

    Because it’s convenient?

  76. I mean, he should have said “I’m going to raise taxes on something, which will have an effect on poor people, but no worries, I’ll give you a sweet tax credit.”

  77. “As I’ve pointed out before, the argument that smoking imposes a burden on taxpayers does not fly; if anything, smoking saves taxpayers money because it shortens smokers’ lives, leading to less health care in old age and fewer demands on Social Security. And the paternalistic argument-that cigarette taxes help smokers by encouraging them to quit-is hard to reconcile with the claim that people do not really choose to smoke, since nicotine addiction overrides their free will. People who decide to stop smoking when the cost of the habit goes up plainly are in control of their behavior, which undermines the case for government intervention.”

    Okay… this last paragraph is pure rubbish. (1) In general, people who smoke may not live as long, but suffer from more illnesses than non-smokers. For instance, lung cancer, bronchitis, more colds, emphysema, asthma, etc. Also, shortness of breath means less exercise, so lower quality of life as the person ages. Now this does not mean I want the state to ban smoking, WHICH LEADS TO MY SECOND POINT. (2) The activity of smoking is ENITRELY DUE TO FREE WILL. You either decide to light a cigarette or you don’t. The Evil Nicotine Heebee Jeebee doesn’t will your hand to strike a match or engage a lighter and move the other hand to your face, then cause you to inhale at precisely the right time to keep the cancer stick lit.

  78. “How does any self-identified progressive justify this sort of income redistribution?”

    I actually agree with you here. I suspect it’s because cigarette taxes are one of the most politically palatable taxes that exist. I would love for a president to have the stones to call for a progressive tax. If I recall Obama’s initial plan was to raise taxes on the rich, but he had to talk about it in squishy language meant not to tip off FOX news.

    You see, for some twisted reason, in this country regressive taxes are easier to defend. Could have something to do with the right-wing propaganda machine that defines any tax increase, but especially those on the income of rich people, as class warfare.

  79. Which is why it’s pointless to parse the quote provided above in order to shout “He broke a promise!” instead of looking at the actual substance of his tax policies; a clever politician can always out-parse an audience, and be right on the semantic point.

    Isn’t this pretty much the equivalent of saying that all of Obama’s promises during the campaign expired on Election Day?

    Isn’t this also pretty much admitting that Obama is, indeed, the Parsin’ President, and that his high-flown rhetoric was nothing more than cynical calculation intended to help him seize power?

    As I’ve pointed out before, the argument that smoking imposes a burden on taxpayers does not fly; if anything, smoking saves taxpayers money because it shortens smokers’ lives, leading to less health care in old age and fewer demands on Social Security.

    Actually, I think this has been shown with actual data, although I am (a) too lazy to dig it up and (b) seem to recall the study indicated that the current level of taxation more than covered the health care costs of smokers.

  80. The governments obligation to pay people back, as individuals, based on their the level of their contribution, makes payroll taxes an form of asset.

    Except, of course, the government has no enforceable obligation to pay people any Social Security at all.

    And the common definition of an asset includes some form of transerability, some smidgeon of property right in the asset, which is completely lacking in your Social Security “account.”

  81. Everyone except the occassional idiot has always called FICA a tax.

    O RLY? One has to wonder why the government “sells” the FICA program the way it does, then.

    Really? A benefits statement? A Social Security Number?

    You need to understand that more than the “occasional idiot” is fooled by the slick salesmanship of the Federal Government on this issue. As a matter of fact, it was joe who destroyed that distinction for me, and a lot of people still struggle with it, precisely because the government WANTS people to struggle with it.

    Remember the Social Security Trust Fund? What the fuck was that all about, if not trying to preserve the illusion the Government has sold people on?

  82. The Angry Optimist | February 5, 2009, 1:16pm | #

    Apparently, this language in joe-land:

    no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.

    Means:

    Barack Obama is cutting taxes for lower income people. Their tax burden will be lower..

    So, “any form of tax increase” = “lower tax burden overall”.

    OK, joe, continue to spin.

    I’ll say it again: this thread is making it very obvious who is serious about seeing low-income people get tax relief, and who is serious about being able to yell “gotcha!” at a Democrat.

  83. matt2 | February 5, 2009, 1:55pm | #

    Why are you asserting that we should interpret “under my plan” in an extremely narrow way…

    I’m not. I’m simply stating that it has some meaning.

  84. “How does any self-identified progressive justify this sort of income redistribution?” By noting that his tax polices are hugely progressive overall.

    Isn’t this pretty much the equivalent of saying that all of Obama’s promises during the campaign expired on Election Day?

    Only if you are utterly unconcerned with the actual policies and effect of his policies, in favor of playing word games.

    It’s funny how little it seems to matter to allegedly tax-averse people when Barack Obama proposed lower taxes.

    Except, of course, the government has no enforceable obligation to pay people any Social Security at all.

    And the common definition of an asset includes some form of transerability, some smidgeon of property right in the asset, which is completely lacking in your Social Security “account.”

    Exactly. You can’t sell your Social Security vesting. Shannon Love might as well claim that General Dynamics owns its projected contracting fees twenty years from now.

  85. It’s aight, we only smoke weed.

    Hang on, there’s some banging at the door and my dog is barking…

  86. I’ll say it again: this thread is making it very obvious who is serious about seeing low-income people get tax relief, and who is serious about being able to yell “gotcha!” at a Democrat.

    Just not smokers. right?
    The promise, not that I believed it, was no increases taxes to any family making less than 250K.

    Do you believe a childless married couple pulling down 200K+ is not going to see a net tax increase from this administration?

  87. With no dependents and not wearing the bullseye for those targeted tax cuts the under 250k earners get……$500 in tax “relief” under Obama’s “plan”.Better not smoke more than 2 packs a day or you’re making the President a liar.

  88. Just not smokers. right?

    Low-income smokers still get a net tax cut.

    Why is this such a difficult concept to grasp? Oh, right – because you don’t want to.

  89. I’ll say it again: this thread is making it very obvious who is serious about seeing low income people get tax relief

    What color is the sky in the world where 250K is “low income”, joe?

    Anyway, your point would be better served if you just said that cigarette taxes are facially income-neutral, if not income-neutral in fact.

    Regardless of all that, I don’t have any interest in yelling “gotcha!” at anybody. I have an interest in the fact that you’re spinning, hard, and that the President is not being straightforward in this.

  90. Please, joe, just admit that these two statements:

    “any form of tax increase”

    And:

    “lower tax burden overall”.

    Are not the same thing. Any form means just that: any! form!.

    You want to cut to the “essence” of the thing, stop bullshitting first.

  91. Low-income smokers still get a net tax cut.

    Mom and Dad each smoke a pack and a half a day.
    365 x 2 x 1.5 x $0.61 = $667.95 a year.

    That’s the minimum other fed taxes have to decrease for them to not have a net increase.

    It’s pretty much gotta come from increased EITC or a reduction in FICA.
    ____________________________________
    Antbody know when my nicotine tax increases? ~0.25 a day/$91 a year.

  92. I’ll say it again: this thread is making it very obvious who is serious about seeing low-income people get tax relief, and who is serious about being able to yell “gotcha!” at a Democrat.

    Once again, why cant it be both?

    Im all in favor of a tax relief bill for low income people that is completely separate from any other stuff – like stimulus.

    Well, it could be inside a $900B spending cut bill, I would be okay with that. Might be only way to justify the tax cuts anyway.

    I also like mocking democrats.

  93. joe,

    It’s funny how little it seems to matter to allegedly tax-averse people when Barack Obama proposed lower taxes.

    His tax lower bit is inside a gigantic future tax increase plan. That is what the stimulus package is, a delayed tax increase.

  94. Obama is a lying liar who lies.

    He can take his socialism, his cult of personality, and his zealot followers and shove them where the sun doesn’t shine.

  95. joe,

    It’s funny how little it seems to matter to allegedly tax-averse people when Barack Obama proposed lower taxes.

    Obama has proposed making the U.S. tax system more byzantine. That doesn’t change anything fundamental about the system and keeps it frozen, light-years behind more advanced tax systems.

    In other words, lowering taxes for one segment of the population in area of life, raising it in three other areas, lowering it two other areas, etc. is simply not something I can go with. So whether Obama lowers one tax is beside the point.

    REAL TAX reform would simplify our tax system; make it far more transparent; increase the incentives to work and make a profit; and would make it much less of the Tullock lottery than it is today. Until some politico does that it is all just so much noise.

  96. What color is the sky in the world where 250K is “low income”, joe?

    I wouldn’t know. What color is the sky in a world where only people making $250k are getting tax cuts under Obama’s plan?

    Please, joe, just admit that these two statements:

    “any form of tax increase”

    And:

    “lower tax burden overall”.

    Why would I do that? That has nothing to do with the argument I’ve been making.

    My argument about the semantic quibbling you’re doing is about the phrase “under my plan.” The point about the tax burden goes to the substantive issue of his efforts to cut taxes for low income people.

  97. robc,

    Once again, why cant it be both? Because none of the people shouting Gotcha are willing to acknowledge the slightest degree the existence of the refundable tax credit.

  98. joe,

    Neither you nor I know whether there will be a lower overall tax burden under an Obama administration; indeed, and I hate to harp on this but I will, given the nature of the tax system in the U.S. it is very difficult to tell what the overall tax burden of your “average” American is.

    BTW, via the last count I saw in the media I believe Obama had proposed four or five tax increases and two or three tax decreases. This looks at first glance like fine tuning and it is rather pointless.

  99. Still waiting for those names joe.

  100. Frederick Eugene if it’s a boy, and Marybeth Dogbreath if it’s a girl.

  101. Huh?
    Wrong thread. It was meant for the MM raid thread. My mistake.

  102. I’ll say it again: this thread is making it very obvious who is serious about seeing low-income people get tax relief, and who is serious about being able to yell “gotcha!” at a Democrat.

    I, for one, am still engaged in what I expect will be a very rewarding four year hobby of pointing out the Parsin’ President’s broken promises, evasions, and occasional outright lies.

    I am agnostic on tax relief for lower-income folks. If it comes in the form of byzantine social engineering incentives, or income redistribution schemes, I am agin’ it. If it comes as part of a tax package that simplifies our tax system and gives relief overall, I’m for it. If it comes as a mixed bag (overall reform that includes income redistribution), well, I dunno.

  103. RC,
    Stop pissing on the Hope and Change ™!

  104. “…the stimulus bill includes the refundable tax credit he was talking about throughout the campaign, which makes his tax policy a large tax cut for low income people,…”-joe

    No it does not. A tax cut involves lowering the rates of taxation, the savings to the taxpayer is proportional to the amount they would have paid. The tax credit is merely a kickback for paying something in, but the amount of the credit is independent of the taxes paid. In terms of stimulating the economy, tax credits are the weakest form of tax relief as they do nothing to affect the long term financial planning of taxpaying citizens and businesses. Tax cuts are stimulative, tax credits are an irresponsible giveaway.

    Conflating tax credit with tax cut is an Orwellian bastardization of the language.

  105. “A whole lotta libertarians, or at least people who claimed on these threads to be libertarians, made that argument out his socialist plan to take money from Joe the Plumber and give it to – not the quotation marks – “people who don’t pay taxes.”-joe

    The was not that those people do not pay taxes but that they do not pay net federal taxes. That the system of credits and deductions already in place produce a significant number of people who already get back every cent they pay to the feds in taxes.

    Also joe, it was not as if Obama signed the SCHIP with great relectance and reservations. He supported it fully and practically fell over himself getting his signature on this crapsack legislation. To excuse his breaking a promise on taxation by saying the SCHIP is not part of his plan, you are suggesting an almost sociopathic ability to compartmentalize his actions on Obama’s part. Just admitting Obama fibbed would paint a more attreactive picture of his character.

  106. What a great country America is where people can steal from the productive and call it patriotic and give to the undeserving and call it justice!

    Why in America the Dear Leader wants to cut the 50% the government allows to keep to meet the progressive agendas of the politburos in Moscow and Beijing.

    In four years the Dow should be at about 2,000 if Obamie follows the Carter model. It was a wonderful thing to see the Dow drop from 1,100 to 300 under Carter. I figure with the Dear Leader’s brains and vast experience in the private sector he should do at least as well.

    I all ready made a piule on shorting financials and real estate stocks. Now I figure I make a fortune on inflation. And I have Obama and his lemmings to thank. Four years of this and I’ll be able to purchase another property in Costa Rica and Thailand.

  107. Frederick Eugene if it’s a boy, and Marybeth Dogbreath if it’s a girl.

  108. Still waiting for those names joe.

  109. The adult industry released nearly
    thanks for this

  110. Frederick Eugene if it’s a boy, and Marybeth Dogbreath if it’s a girl.

  111. RC,
    Stop pissing on the Hope and Change ™!

    1. thanks
      thanks
      thanks
      thanks
      thanks

  112. Frederick Eugene if it’s a boy, and Marybeth Dogbreath if it’s a girl.

  113. Frederick Eugene if it’s a boy, and Marybeth Dogbreath if it’s a girl.

  114. Frederick Eugene if it’s a boy, and Marybeth Dogbreath if it’s a girl.

  115. thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanks

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