Washington Bob Livingston, who Slate says has represented Big Tobacco has come into the state to tell us that it is better not to raise taxes than to save the health of tens of thousands of Louisiana citizens who suck up fumes from cigarettes which ultimately costs the state tens of millions of dollars each year due to emphysema, heart disease if they are lucky and cancer if they aren’t.
The Louisiana GOP, who says it is in favor of small government, but whose actions on this issue engages just the opposite.
It is bad enough that the state and local governments are forced to pay for a healthy part of the health care costs and social drags associated with cigarette smoke, but killing a bill targeted to making tobacco more costly sends a horrible and mixed message to the nation and particularly to our youth.
In a LAGOP paid radio ad entitled “United”, Washington Bob says, “This is former Congressman Bob Livingston with an urgent legislative action alert from the Republican Party of Louisiana.
“Liberal lawmakers in Baton Rouge are dead set on a massive hundred and twenty million dollar tax hike.
“Conservatives must stand united against tax increases – especially fiscally irresponsible tobacco taxes that threaten Louisiana’s small businesses.
“Contact your State Representative today-- tell them to vote against higher taxes. Visit lagop.com for more information. …
“We are taxed enough already.
“Paid for by the Republican Party of Louisiana.”
Not to be outdone, this is what the GOP said yesterday in an email voiced by its Chairman Roger Villere, who is now an executive for the National Republican Committee:
“Today, Republican Party of Louisiana Chairman re-iterated the LA GOP's principled and unwavering opposition to tax increase legislation before the Louisiana Legislature:
"Our party is firmly committed to getting Louisiana's fiscal house in order without increasing taxes on Louisiana families and small businesses," said Chairman Villere. "Raising taxes during tough economic times kills jobs and prevents economic expansion that are essential to Louisiana's future. Every member of the Louisiana Legislature who intends to run for re-election this fall as a conservative should vote NO on any and all tax increases."
The House Ways and Means Committee will consider today House Bills 63 and 591. H.B. 63 seeks to increase taxes by more than $120 million and H.B. 591 renews $12 million in tax increases set to expire because they were not intended to be levied in perpetuity. Both are tax increases and both should be rejected.
Of interest, both bills dealt with tobacco, cigarettes and taxes but nary a word “cigarette, smoke, tobacco or cancer was mentioned in Villere’s message.
Instead, the LAGOP mantra along with that of Governor Jindal has been to kill anything that looks like and smells like a “tax”.
Well kind of.
After all, our Governor has already put his stamp of approval on tuition fees to help balance the state’s budget.
In essence, Jindal and others are telling us they would rather fight than quit their “no-tax” gimmicks.
Which means that instead of increasing cigarette costs to help pay for tobacco-related medical care and deterring the young and others from smoking, opponents of the cigarette tax would rather have our parents and kids pay more for their education—an act which targets our youth and their families.
These no-tax-on-cigarettes advocates are telling us that it is better that our kids consume tobacco and mortgage their future with higher tuition costs debts than to compromise on a meaningless slogan of “read my lips, no taxes”.
Villere said, "Raising taxes during tough economic times kills jobs and prevents economic expansion that are essential to Louisiana's future.”
What he is not saying is not providing disincentives to our youth will worsen our state’s health, hasten the death of our kids and ultimately increase the costs we pay for this deadly scourge that fatten the wallets of fat cats while filling the lungs of those most in need.
We will see if Livingston, Villere et.al. continue their “two-bit slogans” of “no taxes during bad economic times” when votes are needed to raise the tuition on our young and socking it to their families—which, in reality, crushes the hopes of our state’s future to a stub while seeing the next generation’s dreams go up in smoke.
by Stephen Sabludowsky, Publisher of Bayoubuzz.com