The Poor Hardest Hit by Sin Taxes

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is urging Republicans to swear a “blood oath” to shut down the U.S. government until health care reform is repealed.

King is one of a growing number of Republicans who say that, if the GOP takes over congress this fall, they will hold up every appropriations bill until the Affordable Care Act is repealed, as Steve Benen reports in the Washington Monthly. Brian Beutler of TPM explains how this would actually work.

Blood oath or suicide pact?

Benen thinks the hardliners are crazy enough to actually follow through — they’ve done it before. In 1995, the Republicans shut down the federal government because then-president Bill Clinton refused to sign off on Congress’s radical plan to slash Medicare and other social spending. Several hundred thousand federal employees were furloughed because there was no money to pay their salaries and every aspect of the economy suffered, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.

Ultimately, the GOP blinked and unfroze the government when the polls turned against them. Hence King’s proposed blood oath. King wants an ironclad commitment to shut down the federal government to repeal health care reform regardless of the consequences.

Kevin Drum of Mother Jones predicts that a government shutdown would generate a backlash against the Republicans and an uptick of support for the Affordable Care Act. For one thing, a shutdown would give Obama and the Democrats plenty of airtime to sing the praises of the legislation. Also, history shows that the public has very little patience with a party that is willing to hold the entire federal government hostage to their extreme ideology. King’s plan is more of a suicide pact than a blood oath.

Condoms and porn

In other bodily fluid news, Amanda Marcotte of RH Reality Cast interviews me about the ongoing fight to enforce occupational health and safety laws on porn sets in California.

Under California law, porn producers must give performers condoms or equivalent protection, but producers routinely ignore the law. Performers who insist on using protection are blacklisted within the industry. A non-profit called the AIDS Health Care Foundation is pushing state safety regulators to bring the porn industry into compliance.

Usually, the adult entertainment industry is at pains to portray itself as a mainstream, multi-billion dollar industry that has shed its shady past. Yet, when they are ordered to obey the same occupational health and safety laws as other employers, industry groups are pleading poverty and threatening to off-shore jobs. I guess they are just like other corporations.

Pizza, pap smears, and propaganda

Alexandra Tweten of Ms. Magazine reports that so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” have a new weapon in their campaign to lure women into their fake clinics: Pizza and pap smears.

Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are anti-choice front groups that mimic full-service reproductive health clinics in the hopes of diverting women from seeking abortions or birth control. Tweten found a coupon from a CPC in St. Cloud, Minnesota that offers $10 off a pap smear and a free small Little Ceasar’s Pizza with every visit. Come for the extra cheese, stay for the anti-choice propaganda.

The wages of sin

In these tight economic times, many governments are considering so-called “sin taxes” on cigarettes, sodas, and other unhealthy products. The idea is to raise money while encouraging people to make healthier choices.

Monica Potts of TAPPED argues that progressives shouldn’t get too enthusiastic about sin taxes because they have a disproportionate effect on the poor. All sales taxes are regressive because lower income people spend a much higher percentage of their income on purchases than rich people. Income taxes are more progressive, and less paternalistic, than sales taxes.

Avastin is the new death panel

Nick Baumann of Mother Jones debunks the latest right wing health care conspiracy: An FDA panel recently recommended that chemotherapy drug Avastin be stripped of its indication for late-stage breast cancer.

The editorial board of the Wall Street Journal accused the FDA of “mugging” poor Avastin as part of a sinister plan to ration health care. In fact, the science shows that, if anything, Roche, the maker of Avastin, has been mugging breast cancer patients and their insurers — the drug costs at least $80,000 a year and it doesn’t extend patients’ lives. If this is a conspiracy against Avastin, why isn’t the FDA gunning to revoke its indications for kidney, brain, and colon cancer?

Even if the FDA strips Avastin’s indication for late stage breast cancer, doctors will still be allowed to prescribe it off-label; Roche just won’t be allowed to market the drug as a treatment for this condition.

The conspiracy buffs say that the FDA just wants to save money for Medicare and Medicaid. Indeed, if Avastin loses its indication, public and private insurers may be less likely to cover it. However, off-label doesn’t necessarily mean off-limits. Medicare has been covering some off-label drugs since 1993 and the rules were further loosened last year.

As usual, the Wall Street Journal is more concerned about defending corporate profits and bashing regulation than it is about protecting patients.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. 

photo credit: thanks to Tony the Misfit via flickr
by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger


Grace A.
Grace Adams7 years ago

We need both income taxes to lower the GINI Index and raise revenue AND sin taxes to discourage the consumption of products that cost taxpayers money either by harming the environment so much that it harms many peoples health or by harming the health of the consumer which the way we pay for health care in this country costs taxpayers or customers of employers who provide health insurance.

Bruce Eyster
Bruce Eyster7 years ago

This is a great article but there are so many areas here and each needs their own forum to address them all properly .
I do like and tend to agree with Lionel Mann's broader scope and summation , however .

Colin Hope
Colin Hope7 years ago


Claudia T.
Claudia tomczak7 years ago

condoms and porn?? Respectable?? Give me a break !!! Compare that to movie industry ?? Take a hike. Go off shore , everything else is anyway. Laws are laws , shut them down for goodness sakes. What is the holdup here. If l were at work and l had to have a uniform on and l didnt , off to home l go!! If l did it more than once, off my job l go !!! Get off your arses and do your job, close them down for heaven sakes !!! Thats the problem with our society today, money, money, money, is all the government cares about. We need to rule the government, and in this famous country the government rules the people.!!! OUR society , that means you and l are weak , self centered individuals that only care about whats in it for me, l cant be bothered, lm going to a party, lm going out to get drunk, lm going out to get high, and while this is going on ??? We give our country away, we give other countrys our industry, we allow the government to do as they please, no demands, no controls, we give money to people that hate us, meanwhile our own people are poor, we give foreigners more money to come here than we give our seniors, who have faught wars for our freedoms, built up this nation for their childrens children, and what have we done with it??? We have allowed more poverty, more drugs, more child neglect, more gangs , more voters who can outvote our freedoms by saying their women are under their religious laws ??? We need to CHANGE !!! WE NEED A NEW PARTY RUN BY THE PEOPLE. WE RULE. WE V

John L.
John L7 years ago

WOW, Ignorance at it's finest.

Julie F.
Julie F7 years ago

Ugh - this story just reiterates how much work really needs to get done!

Michele C.
Michele C7 years ago

As for the first story... As if the economy isn't bad enough already, let's shut down the government so things will get worse. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

Sue T.
Susan T7 years ago

If you are not smart enough to understand the difference between a "pro-life" clinic and Planned Parenthood....maybe...just maybe you should not be having sex.
Personal responsibility people!!!! you really want the government telling you what to do? I smoke at times....I drink diet soda and OMG I eat at McDonalds and I put salt on my food. I also love broccoli, green beans and spinach...I recycle.
I really wish self righteous people would STFU and just be a better person. Am I being self righteous? LOL
Seriously dudes lighten up. you probably are shortening your life by all of your ranting. :)

Martha Pendino
Past Member 7 years ago

Concerning the sin taxes. Monica Potts' statement makes no sense to me. It would be nice of the money garnered from sin taxes went to pay the medical bills of all those people who smoke, drink to excess, are obese due to unhealthy diets etc. Many of the conditions being treated on my dime are preventable illnesses brought about by the consumption of unhealthy products. When it is more expensive to buy a can of soda than to buy fruit maybe people will change their ways. Most people don't change unless they are forced to do so. All too often, especially now that food stamps has become a swipable card and can be used to purchase anything, those on public assistance choose to buy their drugs of choice. Being healthy is not a top priority and thus you and I pay for their choices as the results of those choices become disease and disability. And around and around we go. So I am all for taxing the crap out of crap.

Rosella Decker
Rosella Decker7 years ago

Computers are not necessary for our environment but they go down in price.I do not smoke I do not drink I drink decaffinated sodas and those,very seldom. I quit all of these,I'd rather have a computer ,I'd rather have dogs or cats to spend my money on.