Obama’s Poor Tax
Why raising the tobacco levy will hurt the states
“I can make a firm pledge . . . no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase.” Remember that? It was Barack Obama, campaigning to become president last Sept. 12 in Dover, N.H.
Indeed, he promised repeatedly that 95% of American families would get a tax cut. So it’s especially fitting that he chose April Fools Day to implement his first tax increase — which will fall mostly on individuals and families who do not make anywhere near $250,000 per year.
Early in February, the president signed a law to triple the federal excise tax on cigarettes — which will jump from 39 cents per pack to $1.01 today. His administration projects this tax hike will bring in at least $38 billion over the next five years.
If you don’t smoke, maybe you don’t care. Maybe you even think a higher “sin tax” is a good thing. But health issues aren’t the only concern here. There are also questions of fairness, federalism, macroeconomic impact, and crime.
The fairness issue is particularly troubling. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only one in five Americans smokes, so the excise targets a minority — and over half of all smokers are low income, and one of four are officially classified as poor.