Jul 19, 2007

Government, SCHIP And The Sin Tax Revisited

Follow-up to: Government Loves Cigarettes

The problem, as I see it, is that government feels that the pool of American tax dollars is bottomless and it is their “responsibility” to create a new tax to fund every altruistic concept. I just don’t believe that government has unlimited authority to take every noble motive and make it theirs. The government has to be given parameters and it’s those restraints that will always cause controversy.

My argument isn’t with the issue of smoking, it’s with the government. I’m just tired of the back door tactics they use to get programs funded and going that will not make it through the front door.

Our government is contentious on purpose; if an issue can’t gain consensus then it should not be ready for prime-time. By providing $35 to $40 billion in initial funding for the SCHIP program we’ll have another huge bureaucracy formed over night that will be in the order of Medicare and Medicaid. It’s the American way to build and grow and the SCHIP would become a launching platform for nationalized healthcare.

Since it’s the implied goal of these “taxes” to further the cessation of smoking, it’s also reasonable to assume that the programs funding will also dry-up. Exactly what form of funding will take place as the sin tax revenues disappear? What are the SCHIP mandates and how are they going to be implemented. How many children will be covered, what will be accomplished by this funding and what will their needs be 5 or 10 years out.

Are we just going to provide funding and then answer these questions based on Congresses directive to go forth and spend. No one wants to deny uninsured children healthcare, but this situation is far from critical and shows no signs of becoming one. There is plenty of time to do it right.


Anonymous said...

I mostly agree with your view of government function…have to wonder, though, where the front door might be. Big Tobacco must think that access is purchasable, and if that is the status quo, (which of course it is) how is government fixable? As for nationalized healthcare, I like that idea because the present course is failing the mainstream population, national health a long-term inevitability I suspect; in the short term, though, SCHIP makes sense. Funding beyond “sin” taxes in this case could easily come from the massive healthcare savings a tobacco-free society would realize. (Oddly true, the actual “cost” of a pack of cigarettes is around $11.00.) What matters here is that moving in the direction of less tobacco is so important that those “problems” that emerge along the way are welcome. I love paying my taxes when I am this rich…

Fred Adelman said...


I don't have time to respond but would like to discuss this further.

Stop back tonight.


Fred Adelman said...

Wherever the front door is; transparency, a solid plan for the programs workings, a comprehensive cost analysis and adequate time for all sides to present their views should be the lest expected. With that said, I get a sense of apprehension when consensus is achieved.

Healthcare is a mess but I can not believe that government can do a better job than private enterprise. I view the “root” cause in healthcares problems is that the consumer is not the customer. Practitioners have to satisfy the customer first if they expect payment. Past that my answers aren’t much better than most I have heard.

I don’t dispute that each pack of cigarettes ultimately cost $11.00, but how can that savings be tapped into as to provide funding for other programs. And, if $11.00 in savings can be made, does it have to be used at all.

If you’re interested in writing an article on the topic of smoking, I would publish it on my blog. E-mail it to me. Just make sure that appropriate references and links (if any) are included.