Friday, April 08, 2005

Doyle to Reject Cigarette Tax Increase

What? Diamond Jim Doyle rejecting a tax increase? A tax increase proposed by Republican lawmakers? What is this? Bizarro Wisconsin?

Hoping to reduce the number of smokers while shoring up the financially troubled Medicaid program, a bipartisan group of legislators introduced a bill Wednesday to raise the cigarette tax by $1 a pack.

But lawmakers on the Legislature's budget-writing panel, as well as Gov. Jim Doyle's administration, might have snuffed it out before it gains momentum.

Doyle's top deputy, Department of Administration Secretary Marc Marotta, told the Joint Finance Committee that Doyle doesn't support any tax increases, including those on tobacco sales. And some committee members added that they wouldn't back it, either.

Okay, first of all, let's all have a chuckle at the claim that Gov. Doyle doesn't support any tax increases.


But, okay, you want to cut down on the number of smokers? Raise the tax 2 dollars. No, make it 5 or 10. Heck, make 'em cost 20 bucks a pack. Not only will that cut down on smoking, but think of the money you'll raise from the poor souls who are so addicted that they'll spend their last dollar just for a jolt of nicotine.

Why doesn't the state simply outlaw cigarettes altogether if the goal is to reduce the number of smokers? Because there's good money to be made from people's vices. So they'll pretend that they're doing it for our health, while brazenly making money off it. I think there's a word for these kinds of people: hypocrites.

But Jim Doyle's against it? I think I just stepped through the looking glass. Granted, Doyle claims that his budget has no tax increases either.


We also have State Rep. Carol Roessler, who claims that the $1 tax increase isn't a tax increase at all. It's a "user fee." And Rep. Curt Gielow says that it's an insurance "co-pay."

Perhaps these semantic gymnastics are their way to try to get Gov. Doyle to sign it.


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