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Red State – Democrats’ SCHIP Plans are All Smoke and Mirrors (RedState)

January 13, 2009


Tomorrow House Democrats plan to bring a bill to the floor that will expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program. And just like last year the bill is full of missed opportunities and misplaced priorities.

Before I get into the details on how this will raise your taxes I want to make two points perfectly clear:

1. SCHIP should cover poor kids first. The Democrat plan shifts the focus from poor children without health insurance to adults and families making as much as $80,000 – not to mention opening up the program for non-citizens.

2. Government programs should not reduce the amount of private coverage. The Democrat plan, however, does exactly that—it forces families who already have private insurance to lose their coverage and opt into a government program.

Here is the real kicker: to fund this massive expansion of SCHIP (and an expansion of government along with it) Democrats are counting on at least 22 million new smokers to light up.

This isn’t going to happen; which means the Democrats either plan to A) kick children off of health insurance or B) raise taxes on all of us by tens of billions of dollars. Any guess on what direction they will choose? (Hint: it isn’t option A)

While Democrats are proposing a permanent tobacco tax increase of up to 61 cents per pack of cigarettes many of overlooking the “problem” this creates.

The “problem” is that the percentage of Americans who smoke has been dropping for decades. And research and logic both show that raising the prices of cigarettes will lead to less smoking. Less smoking will lead to less taxes being collected. Less taxes being collected will lead to less and less money being collected by Uncle Sam to pay for an expansion of SCHIP.

(By the way, SCHIP costs increased by 10% in 2007, and are expected to increase 18% in 2008…worse yet, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that SCHIP spending will more than double under the Democrats’ proposal.)

Only in Washington could you ask people to start smoking to fund a healthcare program supposedly aimed at helping poor children.

Oh, and let’s not forget that campaign promise of President-elect Obama to not raise taxes on those earning $250,000 or less. Funny thing is tobacco taxes fall hardest on the working poor — the very people SCHIP was originally designed to help. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 28.8 percent of adults who are below the poverty level smoke compared to only 20.3 percent of other adults. Wow, we didn’t even get to Inauguration Day before the Democrat pledge to not raise taxes was broken. That might be a new record, even in Washington, D.C.

So America, light up or pay up — after all it’s to help poor children get health care (and some adults, some non-citizens, and some families making over $80,000 per year).