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SCHIP & the Tobacco Tax

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Here's John in Kennesaw, Georgia, John, glad you waited. Welcome to the program.

CALLER: Hey, good afternoon, Rush. You began the program by reading a quote from Hillary some years back, scolding people for pointing out increasing tyranny in this country does not exist.

RUSH: That wasn't Hillary. That was Bill Clinton in a commencement address at Michigan State in 2005.

CALLER: Well, the point is, there has been increasing tyranny, and it's primarily due to the left. Now, we may still be the freest nation in the world, but we're going in the wrong direction. We're going there at a very brisk pace. Every time these legislatures keep passing new laws criminalizing behavior that used to be okay, these laws come one after the other like waves lapping on the beach with no end in sight. There's a long list of things we were free to do 30 years ago which are illegal today, and it's not George Bush and Ronald Reagan, Pat Robertson, or Dr. Dobson who are doing this to us.

RUSH: Nope. Excellent point.

CALLER: I mean, if the Bill of Rights were formally repealed, how much different would our lives be today than they already are?

RUSH: Mmm-hmm. Interesting think piece. Interesting think piece -- and if they were ever repealed, could they be rewritten today as they exist?

CALLER: I've also noticed, Rush, I did a little bit of radio news, and I spent several years reading police reports. Even laws which you might consider legitimate, police are under pressure to enforce minor violations in a very heavy-handed manner. You know, you've got the jail officials claiming they don't have enough space, the courts claim they can't deal with the workload, and you've got sheriffs deputies and Bartow County, Georgia, arresting an entire car load of people over a piece of marijuana as big as your fingernail. I mean, they can enforce some of these laws by writing tickets and giving warrants, but instead they're he arresting people. You cannot sleep in your car in a Wal-Mart parking lot without being arrested, and they won't simply tap on the glass and say, "I'm sorry, sir. I have to ask you to move on." They make the arrest. You have to go through the process of getting bonded out. It's a big hassle over a minor violation.

RUSH: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. How, if you're doing so, do you attribute that to the left?

CALLER: Well, I think it's the pressure on the police to turn in the numbers. They are under pressure due to legislation, due to budget issues. We're removing from the police the ability and the desire to use rational discretion. There was a case here in Georgia in Kennesaw, not too long ago, where a teenage girl, a recent graduate, had returned to her high school to deliver some items for her brother. On the way out, she saw some old friends and stopped to chat briefly, and the cop arrested her. He didn't simply say, "Ma'am, I have to ask you to leave," and this is another thing -- we have police in schools. Young people are being brought up to interpret constant police scrutiny as a normal part of life in America. The police are searching lockers, searching automobiles without cause. Young people are being trained to accept this as an acceptable part of life in America.

RUSH: True. As long as it doesn't happen to them. As long as it doesn't happen to them, then they're fine with it. In a way, it's like the SCHIP health care program funds health care "for the children." Forget the argument over how many children for now. How is it going to be paid for, folks? Do you remember that? It's going to be paid for with a new $1-a-pack tax on cigarettes, and a $10-per-stick tax on cigars. Now, that's all well and good because those of you who don't smoke say, "Yeah! Yeah, make 'em pay for it! Make 'em pay for it. They shouldn't be smoking anyway." So as long as the tax doesn't hit you, then you're fine with it. But then you've gotta realize, that at some point the tax is going to hit you because their objective is to raise everybody's taxes. But more importantly and specifically on this case, you raise the price of a tax of cigarettes to a breaking point and you're going to cause people to quit. It's just going to be too expensive. Taxation always has behavioral consequences. I thought the libs wanted people to stop smoking, anyway. I thought it was unhealthy. It was putting undue pressure on the health care program. Think of this. If this plan gets signed into law at some point, which it will, the people that are going to be paying for it are smokers! They deserve a medal. They deserve our thanks. Yet what's happening to them?

While taxes are being raised on a product that they obviously need to continue to sell, but if you're going to fund a program with the sale of cigarettes, you need what? You need people to buy cigarettes, and what do you need then? Well, if you're going to make 'em buy them, you better allow them to smoke them. If you don't allow them to smoke them, they're not going to buy them regardless the cost, and then, voila, guess what? The revenue that they have projected will not be forthcoming from smokers. So guess who's next in the crosshairs? All of you who are up there applauding the tax increase on smokers.

So while you're sitting there thinking you're not going to get touched by this, you will, because they're going to tax tobacco and regulate its use out of practical existence. Now, they haven't considered this. Or maybe they have. They are devious enough to have considered it. They know that they can get the original legislation passed by taxing only smokers. "Oh, yeah!" (applauding) You'll go for that. "I'm all for that." They know that smokers are not going to continue to smoke at these high taxes and so forth, plus the increase in prices anyway, and so the revenue is not gonna be there, and then, guess what? It's "hello, your back pocket" where they're headed next, because they're not going to cut the program, they're not going to reduce the size of the program. They can't! It's "for the children," and then those who were applauding big time out there? Ha-ha-ha-ha! Grab your back pockets, because you are next. So they have essentially, without doing it in a statutory way, criminalized the use of the product that they intend to fund by virtue of its sale, this new children's health care program.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Ah hell, folks, it's happening everywhere. I had this story from last week, didn't get to it, but now it's apropos. "Italy's economy minister has sparked uproar by offering 'big babies' a tax break if they let go of their mother's apron strings and leave home. More than a third of Italian men over the age of 30 live at home with their parents, a phenomenon blamed on sky-high apartment rents and bleak job prospects as much as a liking for mamma's cooking. Economy Minister Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa offered to come to the rescue with a 1,000 euro ($1,411) tax break for 20- and 30-something Italians who rent. He said the move was aimed at overgrown male babies." Amen for this guy. "The comment was immediately condemned by politicians from all shades of the political spectrum who said young Italians could hardly be blamed for a sputtering economy and high rents. 'This absurd gaffe shows how he's probably not clear how precarious is the situation afflicting an entire generation -- the first generation that has to deal with social conditions worse than those of its parents.'" I wonder who made 'em that way? There's a reason that these social conditions are what they are. This is not a phenomenon that's only occurring in Italy. Big babies are a phenomenon everywhere.

Walter in Clarksville, Tennessee, next up you are. Welcome to the program, sir.

CALLER: Yeah, Rush, in postulating with your last little bit on taxes and cigarettes, the state of Tennessee increased taxes on cigarettes by about $6.50 a carton to fund child health care in the state.

RUSH: What's a carton of cigarettes cost now, do you know?

CALLER: It's up around $40 or so. Close to 40 bucks.

RUSH: Forty bucks -- I'm thinking New York --

CALLER: With the new tax.

RUSH: Seventy dollars a carton in New York.

CALLER: Well, yeah, but the point here is, Tennessee is a sales tax state. We do not have an income tax. The eight surrounding states all sell these different products at a much lower rate, and so now the tax revenue has dropped dramatically, and, of course, they've also outlawed smoking in restaurants and bars around here, but apparently the state now places spotters at sales outlets across state lines and then if you buy more than two cartons of cigarettes they report back to the state police on the Tennessee side and stop you as you are reentering the state and issue you a ticket. And now, this morning, they are actually reporting on WLAC in Nashville that they're doing the same thing to beer sales, and, if you're bringing back more than X-amount of cases of beer, they are actually confiscating the beer as you cross back into the state of Tennessee. So socialism is alive and well down here in this once proud red state.

RUSH: (laughing) It's not funny, but it is.

CALLER: No, it's not funny. (laughing)

RUSH: They're a victim of their own stupid policies. Taxation causes people to behave in certain ways and people will do what they can to avoid paying them. I don't care if it's liberal, conservative, they will do whatever they can to avoid paying them. If they want to really increase the sales of cigarettes, let 'em smoke 'em in public, not in restaurants and bars, but certain places in public, and lower the tax on them.

CALLER: Well, you know, it's not about smoking here. It's about the state going to excessive things to collect that tax, because it's not coming into their coffers anymore, and this same thing is going on, and the amount of Tennesseans who go outside the state, like cross over to Kentucky to buy groceries because of a lower sales tax on groceries, those people are not being arrested, yet. And, of course, when we had to go across the line to buy lottery tickets, of course, now the state has a lottery of its own, but before those people were not stopped and arrested. But socialism is alive and well, and growing.

RUSH: No question, it is. Walter, I appreciate that. And notice it's built around the vices. Here's another thing, Walter. You think the nonsmoking public is going to give a care in the world whether smokers going across state lines to buy cigarettes and bring 'em back are caught? No. Because smokers have been demonized to such a degree in our society that they're hated. People are glad the cops are catching those people. This is all part of the trick of how it works. They condition people to this kind of strong-arm law enforcement tactic, and then, eventually, when it happens to other people, they've got no recourse because they went along with it in the first place. Eventually it does cause a rebellion at some point down the line if it's excessive.

END TRANSCRIPT

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