I’ll get right to the point here: the U. S. Senate is contemplating a bill which would raise the tax on premium cigars from 5 cents per cigar to a whopping $10 per cigar! That is an increase of 20,000%!! Taxes on other forms of tobacco would be similarly affected. Once again the federal government is exploiting the tobacco industry’s status as the lawmakers’ favorite whipping boy.
I would urge anyone who enjoys fine cigars or pipe tobacco (and believe me, there are still millions of us around) to contact their Senators and Congressmen. You can find your Congressman by clicking on this link. You can find your Senators here.
Tobacco taxes have been our lawmaker’s favorite new toy for some years now, because the dilemma if you’re a politician is always how to raise taxes without jeopardizing your political future. Raise the tax on gasoline or alcohol, and you face banishment to the Dreaded Private Sector. The very thought sends shivers down your spine.
But the wonder of the tobacco tax is that it can be employed over and over again, for two reasons. First, smokers themselves have become a politically impotent minority. To be blunt, no one gives a shit about the smoker or his or her rights. Secondly, these debates are always framed around that obnoxious catchphrase, “it’s for the children”. Liberal gasbag Max Baucus (D-Montana) came out with this beauty: “When given the choice between standing with big tobacco companies and standing with kids, I stand with America’s children.”
Gee, Max, Americans are SO relieved to hear that you’re not standing against the children. After all, anybody who opposes these tax increases must be against the children, right? And so they just keep using this risk free means of raising taxes, over and over and over again. Harry Potter himself could not contrive anything more magical for the tax hungry politician.
But everyone seems to forget two things. First, it makes no sense to fund social welfare programs by taxing an industry out of existence, particularly when that industry has historically produced trillions in tax revenues.
Second, if the tobacco industry is taxed out of existence, the government will have to replace that lost tax revenue somehow. And if they can take my pipe and cigar away from me today, they can take your little pleasure away from you tomorrow.
Think about it.