Kentucky big-spenders' fascination with cigarette taxes went beyond being merely embarrassing a long time ago.
And the beat goes on...
The Lexington Herald Leader reported in a news story today:
"a politically significant time — with the state government scrambling to fill a new $456.1 million hole in its present budget, Gov. Steve Beshear might be forced again to consider increasing the cigarette tax."
"Might be forced again?" Beshear has been circling the state talking about little else other than raising the cigarette tax for months.
The legislature is getting played by Gov. Beshear and the big media/big tax types to get a cigarette tax passed. Make no mistake, a cigarette tax is a gateway drug to more damaging tax increases.
If we really want to cut public health costs related to smoking, let's force welfare recipients to give up smoking as a condition of receiving further benefits.
Given all this drama, it is distressing to see a major tobacco lobbyist fail so miserably to grasp what is at stake here.
Thomas Briant of the National Association of Tobacco Outlets told the Herald Leader that Kentucky "should spread the burden around more widely than focusing on tobacco products. For example, why doesn't it look at more taxes on wine, liquor and beer?"
Great. The tobacco industry serves a population that's quickly becoming the easiest to pick on from a political perspective. Rather than merely trying to toss the hot potato at drinkers -- a strategy that will result in higher taxes for smokes and booze -- he would earn his pay by joining forces with those who oppose any efforts to grow government with any kind of taxes.
And there's also that little detail about cigarette tax increases encouraging terrorism.