by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget proposal relies on a $100 billion tax hike that disproportionately targets the poor, lines the pockets of organized crime, and increases inequality.
The plan doubles the federal tax on cigarettes, which would break President Joe Biden’s promise to raise taxes only on those earning more than $400,000. Households with an income of $35,000 or less smoke at three times the rate of households with incomes of more than $100,000. Richard Marianos, a 27-year veteran of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives who worked on gang violence, said a tobacco tax increase will punish vulnerable communities.
“You’re punishing lower-income people, which the administration promised it wouldn’t do,” Marianos told the Washington Free Beacon. “You’re punishing the police departments that want to push towards reform. You’re punishing the states or organizations that truly have the tobacco harm reduction strategy to keep it out of the hands of kids and criminals. You cannot have a healthy community that is not safe.”
A tobacco tax hike would also put a dent in state economies that rely on tobacco production. Democratic Kentucky governor Andy Beshear, for example, told Biden last week that he opposes the proposed tax increases, which he said would cost the state $50 million in revenue.
The tax plan establishes the first-ever federal tax on vapor products, which have been consistently cited by medical experts as a safer smoking option than cigarettes. The proposal aims to raise $100 billion in government revenue by raising the tax rate on all tobacco and nicotine products to equal that of traditional cigarettes. It would increase taxes by 2,000 percent on chewing tobacco and 1,600 percent on pipe tobacco and snuff. Ulrik Boesen, a senior policy analyst at the Tax Foundation, said the Democratic proposal sacrifices low-income individuals’ and the overall public’s health for the sake of budget concerns.