Thursday, April 02, 2009

Taxing the poor -- of course

I posted this on the Register's Orange Punch blog, and thought you might like to read it here:

Apparently Calvin Woodward of the AP hasn’t drunk the kool-aid. Here’s a fairly hard-hitting story on how the new federal tax on cigarettes, another 62 cents a pack, bringing the total to $1.01 (a whole lot more than Big Tobacco makes), which goes into effect today, will hit lower-income people disproportionately. He even runs down the specific campaign pledge Obama is breaking with this tax, to wit:

“I can make a firm pledge,” he said in Dover, N.H., on Sept. 12. “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.”

Of course a higher proportion of lower-income Americans than higher-income Americans smoke cigarettes, and a tax like this hits lower-income people harder than it hits those higher-income people who do still smoke.

The story doesn’t address the contradiction at the heart of higher tobacco taxes. They’re touted as an inducement to get people to quit, but the government counts on people not to quit so they can grab the additional money pledged — disproportionately from the poor — to fund new programs the politicoes will never want to cut back.

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