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Michelle Malkin
Michelle Malkin
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Obama's Recession Remedy: Tax the Poor!


"Everybody's going to have to give," President-elect Barack Obama warned over the weekend. And some people will have to give more than others — starting with low-income smokers.

Democrats are rushing this week to impose massive tax hikes of at least 61 cents on every cigarette pack sold in America, in addition to new increases on other tobacco products. The money will fund a long-plotted federal expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

Yes, this is Dr. Big Nanny's prescription for recession: punitive tax increases on the poor to feed a universal health care Trojan horse.

Obama and his liberal Democratic colleagues sure have a funny way of demonstrating "progressive" values, don't they? Health surveys show that smokers are more likely to be blue-collar workers, minorities and have less than a high-school education. The National Taxpayers Union noted that tobacco taxes take a 50 times larger share of income from those earning less than $20,000 than those earning more than $200,000. Put another way: Families making less than $30,000 per year pay more than half of all taxes paid on cigarettes, while families making more than $60,000 pay only 14 percent.

That's the dictionary definition of "regressive," not "progressive."

And what will that money buy? SCHIP, you'll recall, is the joint federal-state program that covers health insurance for children and families at or near the poverty line. During the last two years, President Bush and the Republicans took a rare fiscally conservative stand against widening eligibility criteria far beyond the working poor. Democrats wanted to be able to enroll families with incomes at 300 or 400 percent of the poverty level — adding an estimated $35 billion over five years to the existing SCHIP funding costs.

Opponents of this HillaryCare-esque push were lambasted as cruel child-haters for arguing that the program should not be extended to include well-off families, illegal aliens and single adults. They were attacked as heartless penny-pinchers for questioning the wisdom of subsidizing the SCHIP expansion with a dwindling and unstable funding source (smoking is on the decline and cigarette tax revenues are shrinking).

Left-wing comedienne Joy Behar called me a "b*tch" on national television for reporting that the Democrats' poster family for SCHIP expansion to cover the "poor," the Frost family of Baltimore, owned middle-class assets including two properties and three cars.

But if these do-gooders truly cared about The Children, they'd be cursing mightily over the squandering of current SCHIP funds and the cheating of the very children the program was intended to help. State data analyzed by the Department of Health and Human Services reveal that 13 states spent more than 44 percent of their SCHIP funds in 2008 on people who are neither children nor pregnant women. Michigan topped the list with more than 70 percent of its federal children's health insurance funds earmarked for adults who have no kids.

In New Jersey, people earning as much as $295,000 were enrolled in its SCHIP program, dubbed "NJ FamilyCare." Like many states, New Jersey failed to check eligibility for all program enrollees and refuses to conduct stringent assets tests.

As I've noted before, the refusal to do assets tests on federal health insurance programs is why federal entitlements are exploding and government keeps expanding. After an audit found that the New Jersey program had paid $43.1 million to participants without knowing whether they were eligible, Republican Assemblyman Richard Merkt observed that it "called into serious question the state's competence to run health insurance programs." Multiply that by 50 states.

How will the Democrats prevent such fraud? I'd give you more details about the Obama/Democratic tax hike on the poor to expand children's health care coverage for the non-poor and non-children, but as of Tuesday afternoon, there was no legislation text available. And no hearings are planned before the expansion is rushed through for Obama to sign.

The Wall Street Journal did report that Democrats plan to lift decade-old restrictions to allow legal immigrant children to tap into SCHIP. But there's no word on whether citizenship eligibility requirements will be strengthened. Democratic leadership hasn't responded to Republican entreaties on that issue, either. Hurray for the deliberative process.

What I can tell you for sure is that the SCHIP expansion is a rest stop on the road to a universal health insurance entitlement built on the backs of overtaxed low-income workers. Welcome to the era of "shared sacrifice."

Michelle Malkin is author of "Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild." Her e-mail address is



6 Comments | Post Comment
Ma'am; ... Please accept some council on this one.. The absolute best and cheapest method of social engineering is taxaton...Legalize marijuana, and then tax the fun out of it... Definitely tax tobacco to both limit its use, and to help to pay for the health consequences... Kids get their smokes from their parents, and many are long before addicted by close contact... But it is a gateway drug, and† kids get cigarettes by stealing them... Make the parents count every nail in their coffin; because it is society that pays the ultimate cost... Now; you talk like a smoker... I don't want to rain on your march to the funeral home; but try this little trick... Mix a litle fresh urine in an ashtray full of butts, and get a big sniff of that....That special perfume is what a non smoker has to get passed to kiss a smoker... They look cool... They look attractive; they think... To everyone else they look stupid, addicted, a victim in defense of their victimhood...We export that death all around the world... It counts as an agricultural export...But it is as much a drain on foreign economies as opium once was....Get on the right side of life,† Lady.† I don't want to tell any one what behavior is legal or illegal... Any crime ought to have a direct and obvious injury caused from the crime... Society ought to show better sense than people... Society ought to say: it is your life, so dispose of it as you see fit, and more, as you can afford... No one should economize self destruction....Instead, society ought to offer all vices a disinsentive... And, taxed at its source, every vice† can be easily taxed right down the line... It is so much easier than throwing people in jail, or leaving public health to chance where the price must be born ultimately by all.... We have known almost from discovery, that tobacco products lead to early death and disease...It is time to place some impediment before its use... Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Wed Jan 14, 2009 7:25 AM
That's right! Tax the poor, President Obama! tax 'em for all your worth so they can see what a liar you are! Tax 'em so much they want to vote you out of office in 2012! Hope and change my a$$!
Comment: #2
Posted by: Mr Magoo
Wed Jan 14, 2009 12:30 PM
LMFAO!! Council? Yeah, let's tax Marijuana! Everyone who knows even the slightest bit about the plant knows it is a weed (kind of an odd clasification, ya think?) and it germinates from it's own seeds. I'll be very happy to have it legalized so I can grow my own! Oh wait... that means no control, ergo, no taxes! Bummer!! What will we spread?!?! I can think of something rather personal that's gonna be spread! Change IS here and it was voted on by the majority of (I won't say ignorant) America. A clear rush at desperation, an obvious grasping at staws. BTW, using one piece of logic I see on here, the same could be said about Homosexuals and AIDS. Why should any straight person pay exhorbitant insurance premiums to cover their care? Perhaps because they are also humans! And all humans have (pardon the term) faults which are not exclusively passed on by parents nor a result of present day common sense and logic. Sometimes stuff just happens. Society can not show better sense than people, society IS people!

And speaking of people, after "we the people" hear the eloquent words ground in the influence which creates Bo's decisions, we'll know the truth! And in this case the truth shall set in motion something which will not come cheap but which shall set ye free. SCHIP is merely the tip of the proverbial ice berg. Check out the proposed taxes on ammunition! Last I saw it was on his web-site. So, will thugs pay their fair share of tax on bullets? Nah... they'll probably just steal some of yours and use their welfare to buy cooler bling!
Comment: #3
Posted by: bill s
Wed Jan 14, 2009 1:08 PM
$10 trillion debt. That's what Bushie put on our country. May as well have the smokers pay for it. Rich people smoke too.
Comment: #4
Posted by: skynyrdfan
Wed Jan 14, 2009 1:37 PM
Re: bill s;....†† Great; same situation to day except now we tax ourselves to imprison people... What makes you think anyone would do what is illegal to avoid a small tax???I think you better consider the cost in lives and time... When many budgets are over their limits,† law enforcement is still a major expense, the largest expense by far in the county where I live... And what is the gain??? Some thing you might consider is that if you were selling a taxed and homogenous product, you could easily remove the seeds, and it might be expected... While doing that, keep a penalty for growing, distribution with out a licence, or tax evasion... It could make money instead of taking money, and it would tend to offer a disincentive to use.... Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #5
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Wed Jan 14, 2009 5:36 PM
Re: bill s;...Sir, public health is a legitmate province of government; ours at least, which has made a goal of general welfare and domestic tranquility...So it should do what it can to discourage bad behavior, and do what it can to protect the innocent from the actions of the immoral..Now, you know that a lot of people have spread aids and other venereal diseases fully aware of what they were doing... That should put anyone behind bars... For those who for one reason or another cannot be counted on to follow regimes of treatment for TB, or other communicable diseases, there ought to be some form of supervision...People should not be able to fly as easily from nation to nation without some form of quarantine... We face some serious threats of pandemics, and when it happens we should be able to count on government to offer some protection...The right has cut the ability of government to do what the constitution promises to the people as goals in order to feed profits for the rich, and the religious have let them do so... Ideological questions have dominated politics... Just because the religious wanted the sinners to suffer their sins, Aids was long ignored... The thing is, that even the most moral can some times slip into immorality, and it is through heterosexual relations that aids has entered many middle American communities affecting a lot of moral women whose husbands could not keep it in their pockets....Public health is always going to be a public problem... The Jews did not get anywhere marginalizing the lepers, but it is as common among Jews as among protestants to blame those who suffer illness as clearly unjustified by God... We should both know that public health should not be left to chance, and is not a matter of saving grace... Let Government do its job, and work for all people... Forget about the cause in immorality because if you do not, disease will hurt the whole society, the good with the wicked...Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #6
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Wed Jan 14, 2009 6:01 PM
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