Americanly Yours

Promoting Free Markets, Free Trade, and Freedom!

Democrats Plan Fines Americans Who Refuse To Buy Health Coverage

July 03, 2009 By: Phred Category: Uncategorized

The new nationalized health care bill from Senators Kennedy and Dodd just keeps getting worse.

According to the AP:  “Americans who refuse to buy affordable medical coverage could be hit with fines of more than $1,000 under a health care overhaul bill unveiled Thursday by key Senate Democrats looking to fulfill President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority.”

I thought this was America.  I thought this was the land of the free.  I thought that people in this Nation were allowed to live their personal lives as they choose.

Apparently I thought wrong.

Who do these Senators and this President think they are?

Congress and President Obama have no right to fine people for choosing not to purchase health coverage.

If the President and others can justify abortion by citing privacy rights and the right to choose, cant the same rights be applied to those who privately choose not to purchase health insurance?

And what will happen if you dont purchase health insurance and then you refuse to pay the fines?  Will the government have you thrown in prison?

In lingo straight out of the socialist phrase book, these fines will be called “shared responsibility payments!”

Shared responsibility payments?  Are you kidding me?  I share absolutely NO responsibility for the health and well being of others. The punishment for not purchasing health care coverage should come in the form of denied or increased cost for services rendered, not a government imposed fine.

Americanly Yours,

Phred Barnet

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Cigarette Taxes Burn The Poor

April 03, 2009 By: Phred Category: Uncategorized

If you arent a smoker, you might not have heard about the huge increase in cigarette taxes which took effect on April 1st.  On the first of this month, Federal excise taxes on cigarettes went up from 39 cents a pack to $1.01 per pack–an increase of 62 cents a pack.  This is an increase in the tax by about 159%.

It is not fair to target one group of people–a group who are disproportionately from the lower class and who are addicted to a a product–and tax them for the benefit of others.

From the article I linked to above:

“The rate of adult smoking in the United States is, in fact, directly related to household income, dropping in linear fashion as income rises. Overall, 21% of American adults smoke… A different way to look at this smoking-by-income data is that slightly more than half of today’s smokers (53%) earn less than $36,000 per year — making cigarette taxes highly regressive.”

Here is a chart from the CBO on what percentage of taxes are paid by what range of wage earners.  I found this about a year ago when I was looking for evidence that President Bush’s tax cuts benefited the rich way more than the poor.  It turns out that I was wrong about that, but more on that in another post.

I want you to look closely at this chart.  It will make the next couple of paragraphs make a lot more sense.  The lowest 20% of wage earners pays .8% of all federal taxes, the second 20% pays 4.1% of all taxes, the third 20% pays 9.3% of all federal taxes, the fourth 20% pays 16.9% of all federal taxes, and the top 20% pays 68.7% of all federal taxes.

This includes all income taxes, social insurance taxes, and excise taxes.

I like this chart because it allows you to look at excise taxes by themselves.  Scroll down to the bottom of the chart and they have the numbers for who pays the excise taxes in this country.  In this case, the bottom 20% pays 11.1% of excise taxes, the second 20% pays 14.4% of excise taxes, the third 20% pays 18.1% of excise taxes, the fourth 20% pays 21.9% of excise taxes, and the top 20% pays 34.1% of all excise taxes.

You can easily see that excise taxes fall much more heavily on the poor than do the average federal taxes.  In fact, you can see from the chart that the bottom 40% actually pay no income taxes and even received money back from the government, while the third 20% pays only 4.4%.  Combined, the bottom 60% of wage earners pay only .6% of federal income taxes, but pay 43.6% of all excise taxes.

The point here is that excise taxes excessively burden the poor when compared to other taxes.  As the numbers from Gallup above showed, smokers are disproportionately poor.  It sounds simple, but increasing taxes on a product used primarily by the poor amounts to an increase in the taxation of the poor.

This brings me to my next point.  Here is an article from the AP criticizing Mr. Obama for raising cigarette taxes and calling it a violation of campaign promises.

A couple of key quotes from the article:

“”I can make a firm pledge,” he [President Obama] 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. [emphasis added by me]”

“No one making less than $250,000 under Barack Obama’s plan will see one single penny of their tax raised,” Joe Biden said, “whether it’s their capital gains tax, their income tax, investment tax, any tax. [emphasis added by me]”

To me, the word “any” means “any.”  I dont have ANY idea why it wouldnt.

And of course, this tax was enacted in the name of the “public good.”  The money will go to fund S-Chip–a program which gives medical care to children of the poor.  I find this ironic for two reasons.  The first is that the government is essentially taxing the poor to provide their children with a service.  The second is that the government is also claiming that an increase in the tax on cigarettes will lead to a decrease in the number of smokers.  Im sure that this is a correct assumption, but the government is missing (or masking) the point here.

From the Danville Register and Bee:

“The twisted logic of this tax increase as a way to modify behavior shouldn’t go unnoticed. If higher cigarette taxes convince more people to quit smoking, won’t the S-CHIP program need a new source of federal dollars in the future? Won’t that lead to different taxes being raised to continue to cover the same number of children?”

The cigarette companies themselves realized that an increase in federal cigarette taxes would decrease the number of consumers using their products.  Can you guess how they responded?  Altria, the maker of Marlboro, increased their prices by 71 cents per pack for Marlboros, but 81 cents per pack for their menthol cigarettes (which tend to be smoked more often by the poor than other cigarettes) to cover the anticipated losses in smokers due to the new tax.  This means that those who dont quit are being forced to spend at least an additional $1.33 per pack of cigarettes.

I have a friend who supports the cigarette tax increase–he said “its about damn time smokers pay their share.”  But he is missing the point too.  Smokers pay their share–they have the same income tax rates as everyone else in the country.  They are being taxed to pay for a program that they may not use.

Our system of government is supposed to protect citizens against tyranny of the majority, and so I must reiterate my point from above:  It is not fair to target one group of people and tax them for the benefit of others.  It sets a bad precedent and only sounds good until the government decides that it wants to tax a product that you enjoy.

Americanly Yours,

Phred Barnet

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