Guest post by smokervoter in California about Proposition 56, which will slap a $2 tax on every packet of cigarettes:
For various reasons the Medi-Cal indigent childrens’ healthcare program expanded precipitously in 2014. This left a $1.1 billion dollar budget shortfall. The initial solution was to pass the hat amongst the players in the health insurance industry to cover the deficit. Understandably some smaller companies who don’t service the program balked. There developed a major impasse.
The solution followed a path that had worked in untangling a similar stalemate involving the federal version of indigent childrens’ healthcare: “Tax not you, tax not me, tax that fellow behind the tree”. And that person behind the tree predictably materialized in the form of the thoroughly demonized smokers of America.
Proposition 56 is designed to shift the responsibility of balancing the books of over-promised Medi-Cal benefits for the poor and young from the health insurance providers to the smokers and vapers of California. Not only is this inherently unfair but it’s an extremely regressive tax given the fact that the majority of smokers happen to earn less than average income. Smokers are already subsidizing the federal version of this same program to the tune of one dollar per pack.
Between the federal and Prop 56 levies, a minimum-wage-earning smoker/vaper will wind up contributing about $1,000 per year “for the children”. And they’ll likely not even get a Thank You for Smoking in the process.
And the health insurance industry will breathe in a heavy sigh of relief. Dishonorable as it may be, “tax that fellow (or woman) behind the tree” still works every time.