WASHINGTON A key Senate committee overwhelmingly approved a bill yesterday that would raise the federal tax on a pack of cigarettes to $1 to pay for a children's health-insurance program, but the proposed bill has a long way to go before becoming law.
...Rep. Bob Etheridge, D-2nd, said he is open to a smaller increase in the tobacco tax. "To put the burden on the backs of one group of people is very difficult and unfair," he said. "If it's 61 cents, I won't vote for it."
...Under the proposal, the tax on cigars, now at most 5 cents a cigar - depending on size and price - will increase to as much as $10 tax a cigar.
"I think we ought to just shoot people that presume to smoke cigars in my presence and get it over with," Lott said. "It's ridiculous, and I don't smoke them. The ridiculousness of this just shows you what one of the many problems are with this bill," he said. —Mary M. Shaffrey
for the Winston-Salem Journal
Does the Senate plan to charge a 30-plus percent tax on every vice that we have? How about a $1 tax on every Big Mac since consuming too much McSh!t is bad for you, too?
In case you haven't noticed, Senators, virtually every American has a vice. Some smoke $3.25 packs of cigarettes, some sip on $25 bottles of wine, and others (maybe even yourselves and your peers) regularly rattle glasses of Speyside whisky on the rocks (the best priced at $2,500 a bottle). So while over-taxing the vice of an American minority may be effective in gathering money for pet government projects, it's not exactly fair. Further, do I really want rich politicians deciding what is the best vice to disproportionally tax? No, thanks. This is just one more reason why a flat percentage consumption (sales) tax based on what we buy and the elimination of the IRS would let us all play (and sin, if you will) on a level playing field.
Smoke 'em if you've got 'em.