And the AP notices that it didn’t target the top 5% of earners, either. The cigarette tax increase that pays for S-CHIP takes effect today, and it will hit working class families the hardest. In fact, AP reporter Calvin Woodward sounds downright offended (via Jim Geraghty):
One of President Barack Obama’s campaign pledges on taxes went up in puffs of smoke Wednesday.
The largest increase in tobacco taxes took effect despite Obama’s promise not to raise taxes of any kind on families earning under $250,000 or individuals under $200,000.
This is one tax that disproportionately affects the poor, who are more likely to smoke than the rich.
To be sure, Obama’s tax promises in last year’s campaign were most often made in the context of income taxes. Not always.
“I can make a firm pledge,” he said in Dover, N.H., on Sept. 12. “Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.”
Some of the people in the populist class took notice, too. Smoking cessation hotlines are having a banner week in traffic:
Calling your state stop-smoking hot line for help kicking the habit? Expect a wait: Smokers are flooding the lines in a panic over an increase in the tobacco tax.
Denver-based National Jewish Health received triple the usual number of calls Monday for a March day to quit lines it runs in six states: Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, New Mexico and Ohio.
The calls — 2,317 on Monday — had steadily increased all month as smokers began dealing with a big price hit in a sour economy. Not only does the per-pack federal tax climb from 39 cents to $1.01 on Wednesday, but the major cigarette makers raised prices several weeks ago in anticipation.
If Woodward is offended now, just wait until Barack Obama gets his cap-and-trade system passed in Congress, although he may have to wait until 2011 to get it. The increase in “fees” charged to energy producers will hit the lowest income earners the hardest as energy costs will skyrocket. It will eat up the disposable income of working-class families, some of whom may have to choose between heat and food in winter, thanks to the decrease in production and the rise in prices as producers pass along costs to the consumer.
Tomorrow, I’ll be talking with former Rep. Dick Armey about the cigarette taxes and their regressive impact on Americans. Is this the Hope and Change Obama promised? Tune in and find out!