Revenue Up In SmokeBut wait. $400 million is spent here in Virginia to deal with "tobacco-related illnesses" (a highly dubious guess). But 100% of the $4,654,115,156 spent on Medicaid (in 2006) went to fighting the effects of poverty.
It was encouraging to see Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the General Assembly clear the air between them and compromise on a ban on smoking in restaurants and bars.
It was less encouraging to see a proposed 100 percent hike in the cigarette tax go up in smoke last week, as Virginia lawmakers voted down a bill that would have used the increased revenue to offset the planned cuts to the state's Medicaid program in en effort to make up a projected $2.9 billion shortfall in the budget.
The state absorbs $400 million in Medicaid costs for tobacco-related illnesses, Gov. Tim Kaine has said. The ban is a nice gesture, but the tax hike would have been more beneficial to Virginia. [link]
Rather than focus on that miniscule 10% of the problem, why not put a hefty tax on the other 90% of our poor as well? You want them punished? That'll punish them.
Tax the bastards! Make 'em squeal! They're costing us money!
"But we can't do that. They did nothing to deserve such harsh and arbitrary treatment," you'd say.
And you'd be right.