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February 5th

Why did you quit smoking? Do you hate poor children or something?

Only our elected official thinks taxing smokers to pay for children’s health insurance is a grand idea. Now that idea, S-CHIP, is put into practice. This is what happens when politician ask themselves “How I do get reelected?” every time they do something.

Cigarette tax, like all consumption taxes, are regressive. Rich smokers are not going to purchase more cigarettes than poor ones, it all depends on their habit. So the poor will shoulder much of the funding of S-CHIP.

That is, if statistics indicate, if there are enough smokers left to pay for the tax. Unfortunately for S-CHIP proponents, the anti-smoking campaigns are perhaps too successful (and to show that lawmaker don’t even read the table of contents of their bills, here’s $75 million in page 61 in the stimulus package for funding “smoking cessation”). Then there is the issue of tax avoidance. Now that the cigarette tax is even higher, the incentive to head over to one’s local Indian reservation is greater than ever.

But at least poor children get funded right? Well, no. While SCHIP also funds the health mandates of the state governments with matching funds of 65 cents to a dollar. Here in New Jersey, you could be eligible with a $74,200 income. In New Jersey, does one have to be a child either. It’s another case of, “It’s the fed’s money, let’s just cover all the bases” mentality of state governments. In Michigan, you don’t even need to have children to be eligible. Just be poor. In the case of Hawaii, of eligible families dropping out of private coverage bankrupted their states S-CHIP program.

So S-CHIP is a program that covers poor children, well-off children, poor adults with no children at all is being funded by a ever decreasing number of smokers made up of mostly the poor and matches funding for states that make up their own eligibility rules that are beyond the intention of S-CHIP itself. But damn it, it’s intended to give children health insurance and intentions is all that matters.

So what’s the lesson? Getting all caught up with what actually happens is for losers. It’s what you “intended” to do that get you elected into office.

Go home