The Senate Finance Committee approved a 61¢ increase in the federal tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products to help fund the expansion, which would add 3.2 million children to CHIP rolls over the next five years and continue services to 6.6 million currently being served.
Leavitt told Senate leaders Tuesday that the Bush administration strongly opposes the legislation.
Hatch, R-Utah, said facing a veto threat from the White House and opposition from Leavitt did not make him comfortable but he was confident the final bill was an appropriate compromise that focused on needed child health care.
For decades Sens. Hatch and Kennedy have agreed to fund CHIP via taxing tabacco. I am not suggesting that Hatch will vote against his own signature bill, rather, that we won't go the the mattresses for it. Oh and why on God's green earth would you rather have lower taxes on cigarettes than give poor children heath care? Especially when raising the price of cigarettes encourages people not to start and to stop smoking? That seems like a very free market thing that Republicans would favor. But not Mr. 26%, he wants to keep tobacco execs rich. And even though their parents might have voted for him, Bush doesn't care about poor people. Just dictatorial powers (see you can't prosecute my White House for contempt, "Justice" department, unless I say so). But then again, Chris Cannon doesn't care about poor children in his district either.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Thursday that President Bush should "drop his irresponsible veto threat" and that senators who oppose the bill should not block a vote on it.
Meanwhile, the Partnership for Quality Care, which strongly supports the bill, is hoping Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, follows Hatch's lead and can take a leadership role in the House when it takes up its version of the bill.
The organization, made up of labor unions and hospitals, started an $80,000 ad campaign in Cannon's district urging residents to call their representative to support the bill.
But Cannon does not like the idea of tying insurance to the tobacco tax, nor does he like the government getting deeper into the health care business by expanding the program, said spokesman Fred Piccolo.
Piccolo pointed to facts from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, that the cigarette tax "disproportionately burdens low-income Americans, lacks long-term stability, and ultimately results in significant shifting of health care costs onto others."
A tax on tobacco could deter people from buying cigarettes, reducing tax revenues designed to fund the program. The government then would need to get the money from elsewhere to fund CHIP, he said.
We shouldn't tax tabacco because it would reduce people smoking? Isn't that a good thing in terms of costs for people who pay for health care? Remember, this is the same guy that doesn't see the need for raising the minimum wage because "no one" is paid $5.15 an hour.
Leavitt too is paying the dishonest "I care about regressive taxation" card as well. All the Republicans that don't want this tax are the same ones that voted for or supported tax cuts for the wealthy while raising taxes and fees that impact the poor, like sales tax on food and clothing, using public pools, etc.
They call Democrats spineless for holding a 30 hour whine session about the fact that Republicans are holding up majority votes for withdrawing troops from Iraq, yet Republicans can't stand up to their heartless, drunk with power president. I think who the real whimps are has shown themselves by falling all over themselves to parrot talking points and voting in lockstep.