SCHIP Extension Sails, Tax Hike Sinks
Congress passes 18 month children’s health insurance extension without Democrat tax increase

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Taxpayers won last night when Congress passed an 18 month extension to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) without tax increases.  Democrats in Congress had been promoting an expansion of the flawed program to cover children from wealthier families and even childless adults by raising taxes on tobacco products.  The expansion, had it passed, was to be used as a step toward universal government health insurance. 

 “Thanks to strong fiscal conservatives in Congress who refused to be held captive by the ‘this is good for kids’ smoke and mirrors, taxpayers will not have to foot the bill for a bloated, ineffective program,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “I strongly urge members of Congress to spend the next 18 months working for free-market health care reform that will not force families off of private coverage and will give consumers control over their own health care.”

The movement to raise the federal tobacco tax relies on the argument that the rate has not been increased in several years.  However, on the state level, taxpayers have been faced with a consistent and substantial tax increases on tobacco products since 2000.  Over the past seven years, the average state cigarette tax rate has more than doubled from 42 cents to 92 cents per pack.  As a result of high taxes, states are facing declining revenues. 

“As much as everyone likes kids, the logic behind arguing a tax hike will decrease smoking AND will raise revenue to fund more government spending is absurd.  The only real beneficiaries of raising tobacco taxes are smugglers and criminals turning to cigarettes as a profitable black market product,” continued Norquist. “In 2008, Congress must remember that raising taxes is never healthy for the economy.”