Hot Air Is Taxing

Those of you paying attention—the more perspicacious in the audience—picked up on the recent charades by your local governments to levy taxes on soda pop in efforts to raise revenue…all in the name of health.

Peeved from the realization of what this brand of problem solving yields, many raised concerns over where this all was headed; your questions converging on “If Soda Pop Now, What’s Next Then?”

Well here’s a glimpse…

In the past month, the State Of Illinois took a bold step to trim its bloated budget by approving measures to reduce Medicaid, a move surely to impact many. And although I feel compelled to question the real motives behind their choosing of this particular target, I instead want to focus on a familiar tone which continues to resonate from within their discourse.

For what really caught my attention was hearing that this type of cutting is “only part of the equation to fix Medicaid.” The hidden meaning being that the solution to the costs from healthcare MUST include taxation.

Seriously, where in that statement, or in the philosophy behind it, is the true desire to get to the root of the problem and fix it?

I mean, isn’t getting a budget under control actually about reducing costs and limiting spending? But you wouldn’t know that talking with many of these people. As one Republican lawmaker put it, this “continued approach of more revenue, more revenue …” is really more about “trying to look for revenue in every way possible, rather than looking for other ways to contract the budget or in this case, maybe reallocate from other places in the budget to get some money.”

But guess what? It didn’t take long before their modus operandi was exposed. Just one day after passing those deep health care cuts, another piece of legislation made its way through the Illinois General Assembly.

What did they do? Once again, the Governor and his Democrat allies reached into their old bag of tricks and pulled out their magic wand. Yet this time they took aim at a familiar scapegoat—cigarette smokers.

What are their intentions? The feature of their proposal is a $1-a-pack Cigarette Tax (something the Governor has desired since day one). It also included increased taxes on other tobacco products, such as cigars and loose tobacco.

What is their rationale for doing so? They feel that this tax, along with other measures of course, will help fill an overall $2.7 billion gap in Medicaid funding. According to the Senate sponsor of the bill, a Democrat, it would “bring in about $700 million, including federal Medicaid matching funds…” among other things.

Man, that’s a lot of smokes!

To bolster their defense of this bill, the Senate President, another Democrat, said he would vote for this tax even “if it didn’t bring in a penny.” His thinking is based on the idea that tens of thousands of adults and children either won’t start smoking, will quit, or will be saved from premature death because he pushed the proverbial “green button.”

I am sure he means well. However, even if his wildest dreams somehow came true, none of what he is hoping to accomplish would happen overnight. Furthermore, his figures don’t even address the eventual impact from the hundreds of thousands of smokers in Illinois whose health already has been affected by their decades-long habits. But more importantly, isn’t the purpose of their grand idea to raise revenue in order to cover costs and fill a gaping budget hole?!

Honestly, what irks me about the thought processes involved in “creative taxation” is that, aside from any genuine creativity, there really doesn’t appear to be much thought involved at all.  More likely, it seems as though a few good ol’ boys sit around a room spitballing seemingly endless ways to procure revenue rather than truly delving into real matters that would ma

  • Bruce A.

    It is easier for kids to buy marajuana than cigarettes.  I know this for a fact since I have a retail business & must card my cigatette customers. 

    • James King

      Regulation of who can buy what is not a proper role of government and is not authorized in the Constitution. The proper role of government is only to act as a policeman to protect Americans on American soil from force and fraud. What we have had for more than 100 years is an unconstitutional government. We will continue to have this as long as citizens are so uninvolved in what is and isn’t constitutional, just as they have for more than 100 years. Only when they realize just what a moral government should be will it change from a hybrid socialist/communist government. We should have changed our name many, many years ago to the United Socialist/Communist States of America, because that is what both political parties have created. The American Dream is not a house in the suburbs with a four-car garage. It is freedom! Nothing more.

  • James King

    I’m just sayin’ to all conservatives and liberals. You are both right, but only some of the time. I live in Illinois and have seen members of both parties work to destroy America, and it has worked. America is now almost dead and unless term limits are enacted, and if they are it would mean the politicians acted against their own self-interest. When have they ever done that? But there is an even more important or just as  important issue.

    When have you ever heard reporters grill pols about their own sweet retirement benefits? They get elected and receive immediate retirement benefits even if they lose the next election. If I am wrong about that someone please tell me. But when, as an example, Republicans talk about how wrong so-called public unions are, and they are right when they do so, they never talk about their own sweet-heart deals.

    Liberals are wrong on most of their ideas. An example is the so-called constitutional right to an abortion. It doesn’t exist in the Constitution. Conservatives who want to impose a biblical idea on anything are wrong. An example is who can marry. I do not care who gets an abortion because until a certain time, and I don’t know what it is but it has to pass before an embryo has a brain and a heart the abortion is killing a potential human being.

    Now I suppose all of you who say that you rely on the Bible and that everyone else should do so even though they may have a different belief or who have never even heard of the Bible. A potential human has no heart or brain initially and for a certain amount of days or weeks. Conservatives who want to deny a woman the ability to obtain an abortion know this; there is only one act of force greater than that against a woman and that is murder. It is not your body. It’s hers! You have no say.

    So what I’m saying is that all of you, conservatives and liberals alike are all acting on your own personal bias, not on facts and not on the Constitution. Gee, I think someone wrote a book called Bias.

    • BDubya

      James, Bias is one thing, Context is another.  Unfortunately for those of us participating here, you’ve gone off on a number of tangents.

      In an effort to get this train back on the right track, what this article attempts to do is emphasize that the wrong kind of thinking is at play during this very critical time in our country.

      Yes, both sides of the political spectrum are at fault to one extent or another.  But, as we have witnessed coming from D.C. these past six years, the blame game argument doesn’t solve any of our problems.

      However, since Democrats currently hold much of the power in Washington (as they do in Illinois), and because it is they who believe that taxation is always a solution, they are the ones who we all need to take issue with today.

      I am sure the time will come again when we’ll get our chance with the GOP.  But the Democrats are the ones who should have been acting responsibly all these years, and they haven’t.  They won’t make the tough but right choices that they expect (and demand) the rest of us to make in our own personal lives.

      This is the problem, and therein lies The Context.

      • James King

        I sure do agree with what you said about the Dems, but not about holding the GOP to the same standards too. Granted, Obama and his Comrads have done much more damage recently, but they have been helped along the way by the Repubs. One glaring point in that area is continuing to sign on to add to the debt by increasing the limit. It is done by both to buy votes, and it works, sadly, but they both do it. And the wrong kind of thinking goes on all the time. If Romney is elected and does not DO THE RIGHT THING perhaps you will see, and he won’t. What is the right thing. It is to restore government to its constitutional role of obeying the Constitution. But they won’t, and they’ll continue to get away with it simply because they will not do the right thing, even if you replace every Democrat. They neither one make the tough but right choices and act responsibly. I also understand that I am in the vast minority. But that does not make me wrong and the majority right. In fact, the majority is almost always wrong and one glaring fact is in calling America a democracy. Our founders designed a constitutional republic, which is ou do not say, “and to the democracy” in saying the Pledge. I also understand that I have added to what you call out of context. That; makes me sorry that you can’t handle that as well or think it shouldn’t be said in the same breath.

        • BDubya

          James, when it comes to the topic you so passionately have been debating today, I’m sorry, but it seems as though you can’t see the forest through the trees. The context of this article doesn’t care about who did what in the past or who might do what in the future.  It deals with what needs to be done today…plain and simple.

          Somehow you feel I hold Republicans to different standards.  Talk about bias.    Never was it said that they havn’t contributed to the problem.  It’s just that the Democrats are the ones who have held the power; and because of this, they represent the majority.  Besides, speaking in generality serves to avoid redundancy and tends to keep things more concise.

          Additionally, I haven’t thrown up my arms in surrender because many in government don’t get what their roles are or what The Constitution stands for.  I also understand that the cures to what ails all forms of governing across this country won’t remedy (overnight) the sickness that has been allowed to worsen over the years.

          To this I offer that, a couple of Novembers ago, a number of people were elected who are trying to do the bidding of those whom they represent.  They were put into office with the sole purposes of getting D.C. back to the task of adhering to The Constitution, to reducing government spending, to cutting taxes, and to reducing the national debt and the federal budget.  Sure, they might be outnumbered now; but when doesn’t an earthquake start without a tremor?

          Furthermore, those whom oppose this view (currently a majority and one consisting of both Democrats and Republicans) have done so by responding with an array of attacks.  But it is not lost on me that the truth behind their response is based simply on the fear of them losing the “power” they have grabbed and the perks they have bestowed upon themselves.

          You assume a lot of things Mr. King.  In some ways, the inferences which accompany your comments suggest that I am blind to the realities of politics or the ways of the world, or that I know nothing about how we got here or why.  You even imply that I don’t get where you are coming from, or that I don’t even share many of your views.  To the contrary, I do.

          It’s just that much of what you are saying, in fact, goes without saying.

          • James King

            Okay. I see the Tea Party movement the greatest political force in my lifetime and I support it fully. As to Dems & Repubs, I am to the left of Dems in many ways, and to the right of Repubs in many ways and that is where, in my opinion, the founders were. I will continue to work to remove Obama. After that I do not know. But if Romney wins and does not act, the Tea Party should work to replace him, and I think they will go against Hillary in 2016. I also think that current and future pols in DC will not act to reduce government because voters have shown them they will vote them out of office if they do. And since I am old I hopefully will not be arounde then to see the further degradation of my country. Sorry if I went off base with the topic. My vote in Nov. should go to Gary Johnson but it won’t simply because of the overwhelming need to get rid of Obama.

  • Bruskie

    Please, let’s not forget that Governor Quinn and his Democrat cohorts raised income taxes in Illinois a whopping 65% in January of 2010 right after he was re-elected by the people of Illinois.  And of course the question of what happened to that money won’t be answered even by the Republicans in our great state other than to say “It’s Gone”.  Oh what a world we have in Springfield.

  • asl3676

         Is this any sillier than the claim that cutting tax rates creates jobs? Upper income people do not create jobs other than household help….You need silly reasons to raise taxes and absurd reasons to lower them..

  • Wiley Jones

    If we realy want moer money ,how much are we paying the 30 some oid zares that was probely behine those locked doors that dreamed up thisw god aful  health plan. How much do they make any way.Also we could get out the UN and get the un out of the US.Wiley Jones San Joes CA.

  • wally

    At some point the continual high taxes on tobacco will make some smokers quit and will be a great incentive for smugglers and drug dealers. We all know that many to most  politicians are cowards so they will never address the real problem until it is too late.

  • Drew Page

    With all the hard work being done by Illinois politicians to cut government spending on Medicaid, they just didn’t have enough time to do anything meaningful on pension reform for teachers and other state employees.   So far, these pensions are only $83 billiojn under funded.  But what the heck, it’s time for summer vacation and
    work on pension reform can wait until the fall session and the next round of elections.   In addition to the $1.00 a pack increase in cigarette taxes, Illinois politicians are woking diligently to increase revenues by increasing gambling in the state.  This too is being pushed for the good of the people of Illinois.   Like the well known insurance company headquartered here, the Democrat controled Governor’s office, state Senate and House of Representatives work assiduously to prove to the people of Illinois that we are in “good hands”.  HA. 

  • Michael Babbitt

    Grabbing at straws. When one lacks real commitment and imagination, you’re likely to try any silly thing and rationalize it from whatever perspective works: it will solve our financial problem; it will get people to stop smoking.  But it is financially incoherent and just looks like something real is being done, but not really. Cowards and fools are in abundance.

  • Paul Borden

    So the idea of the cigarette tax is to raise money, but one of the benefits of the tax is that it may encourage people to stop smoking or discourage them from even starting to smoke. Isn’t there a conflict of interests/aims there?

    • asl3676

      It’s not a conflict…The cost of smokers to the healthcare system is enormous…The reason to raise taxes is so teens can’t afford to start smoking..WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

      • Worldbuilder

         Asl, the problem is that its not within the government’s authority to force people to stop anything they want to do to themselves. If teens can’t buy cigarettes from stores, they’ll get them in other ways. In most places, its already illegal for people under 19 to buy them anyway.

        Your use of the phrasing “healthcare system” is telling. Only when medical care is socialized can you talk about how an individual’s choices impact the entire system. If people were held responsible for their on care, then they would be much more likely to make responsible decisions and the costs of the care would be reduced dramatically.

  • GlenFS

    That might be the only tax I favor: purely voluntary and will drive many into quitting.  Thus will  not raise anything near the revenue they dream it will. 

    Heck, they’d just find new things to spend it on anyway.

  • BDubya

    James, I hope you don’t think I was trying to stifle you.  To be honest, from the various posts of yours I read, you brought up quite a number of good topics regarding the curent state of affairs.  Let’s just hope the majority of people get the message and finally figure out what ought to be going with government.

    On a semi-related note, I read this interesting article last night: