We’re here to help (but it’s gonna cost ya)

July 20, 2007


Another Helen Lovejoy moment, this time courtesy of the US Senate with its proposed expansion of coverage of the SCHIP program :

The bill would ensure that health coverage continues for some 6.6 million children currently enrolled in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as SCHIP. It also would make about 3.2 million more children eligible for the program that is meant for low income families unable to afford insurance, but who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.

Sounds like a good thing to do, right? You would have to be a complete bastard for not supporting the expansion of health insurance for the kiddies . Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont), in response to President Bush’s threatened veto, said:

“When given the choice between standing with big tobacco companies and standing with kids, I stand with America’s children”

Well said, Helen.  Here’s the rub. The democrats in the Senate (with bipartisan support) want to pay for this increase in funding with a 61 cent increase on the the excise tax for a pack of cigarettes.

Someone should ask Senator Baucus why he is supporting a bill that will disproportianately increase taxes on the poorest of the poor to fund the increased coverage of those very same people he is trying to help.  I thought democrats were all about progressive taxation.  You know, the more money you make, the more money you pay.  Excise taxes, especially on cigarettes, are one of the most regressive forms of taxation possible.


6 Responses to “We’re here to help (but it’s gonna cost ya)”

  1. QuakerJono Says:

    It is, of course, unfortunate that in its objection to extending the SCHIP program, the Bush Administration failed to make this their primary point. At least then their motivation might have been somewhat plausible. However, what they went with, the ridiculous notion that the SCHIP program is somehow going to drive these gap children, who’s families make too much money to qualify for Medicaid (which isn’t very much at all) but not enough money to afford health insurance, onto a defacto government health plan is as laughable and pathetic as the administration’s support for its own “No Child Left Behind” package.

    This bait and switch notion you’re implying, that “It’s right to cut SCHIP because smokers are poor and look at the Democrats tax the poor…has everyone forgotten about the 6.6 million children who are going to go without health care coverage?” is transparent political obfuscation. If you don’t like the funding, then find something else to cut. It is shocking to me that for three month’s expenses for the war in Iraq we could ensure the continued health coverage of 6.6 million children and the additional coverage of 3.2 million more children over the next five years. If we’re willing to throw that kind of scratch away on a vanity war, then don’t tell me we can’t find $35 billion to make sure children in the United States have better access to health care than children in third world countries.

  2. John in IL Says:

    This bait and switch notion you’re implying, that “It’s right to cut SCHIP because smokers are poor and look at the Democrats tax the poor

    A cut in SCHIP isn’t even in the story. The bill’s purpose is to increase the coverage under SCHIP. President Bush himself requested a 5 billion dollar increase in the program.

    My problem is with the funding. Why tax the poor to help the poor? That seems like a reasonable question to me. How is that bait and switch?

  3. Jamie Says:

    Actually, if you’re taxing the poor to help them then they’re better off without the help, because at least then the money could go directly to the expense without added administrative cost for the govt program.

    However, if the added tax on cigarettes is enough to surmount those costs, I can see it making sense, especially if it makes some of us quit. Smoking-related health-care is a significant factor in government costs across the board. And yes, I’m a smoker. However, it was my understanding that none of this would be necessary because of the lawsuits in which states were awarded terrificly large amounts of money.

    Frankly I’d rather see them raise the money from ticketing reckless drivers. I was almost driven off the road twice last week.

    Damned women.

  4. John in IL Says:

    You got it half right, Jamie. From the Tax Foundation:

    The purpose of cigarette taxes is not to raise general money for the government and its programs. The purpose is to control for a negative externality on society. If the tax is smaller than the externality, then it should be raised. It shouldn’t be raised merely because there is some expiration of a popular government program. The two have nothing to do with each other and tobacco is merely being arbitrarily picked as a funding source by politicians who want to do two things: (1) appease paternalistic interest groups while at the same time (2) support a government program by raising taxes on a minority of individuals, regardless of the fact that they tend to be disproportionately low-income.

  5. […] Thursday, it was the federal government proposing a 61 cent increase on a pack of cigarettes to fund SCHIP. Then Monday, Governor Blago […]

  6. […] 31st, 2007 A recent commenter took offense at my pointing out that the proposed increased funding for the SCHIP program would be […]

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