Dangerous Precedents – Line Item Tax Increases

Washington policy has made ‘shared sacrifice’ a cliché for ‘hold onto your wallet.’  Just like in 2009 when President Obama initiated ‘change you can believe in’ with a 62 cent punitive cigarette tax hike, his campaign promise in 2012 to ‘protect the middle class’ has been surrendered by budget proposals to include a more regressive 94 cent tobacco tax increase.  That’s almost a 100% increase.

Roughly one third of the people ‘eligible’ to pay this tax are those same lower-income people Obama reports will benefit from the tax hike.  In 2009 the tax was to expand a children’s health insurance program.  (Insurance is not a sick-kid program, only an ‘in case’ program.  Who got paid?)  The 2013 tobacco tax, expected to generate $7.8B/year, is to pay for a preschool program for children.  Since public school is not mentioned, I interpret the program is to fund a private venture.

No matter what the public opinion is of smokers, the proposed cigarette tax increase is menacing aggression against a select group of the population.  Smoking is a personal and legal choice.

Suds drinkers should be especially wary.  Alcohol has taken big hits already, but if daycare needs funding, imbibers might get selected to pay for it.  A bag of Famous Amos could be specially taxed to cover mental services for returning Veterans.  As many seemingly mundane personal choices we make in daily life, government can determine it is unhealthy or risky, attach the behavior to a philanthropic cause and tax you because you choose to do it.

Politicians link ‘tax’ to an paycheck deduction and stop there.  So does the public.  You need a calculator to add the ‘special taxes, fees and charges assessed against you by Federal, State and County taxing agencies.  These ‘specials’ are as crippling as an extra percentage paid on income because that is what you’re paying the tax from; income.  There is no Tea Party for the middle class nor is there an escape from paying.  Governments have done a fine job of using income tax dollars for other purposes and doubling down with extra assessments for needed public requirements.

We are a wealthy country and our politicians should be ashamed their monetary thinking directs taxes paid toward Wall Street rather than the public they represent.

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