FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, May 13, 1998
For Further Information, Contact: Pete Sepp (703) 683-5700
(Washington, DC) - The 300,000-member National Taxpayers' Union (NTU) today sharply denounced the tax increases contained in the Senate Commerce Committee's tobacco bill, and urged lawmakers to reject legislation that would serve as a cash cow for Washington.
"How can Senators support a bill that soaks taxpayers almost as much as the Budget Deals they railed against in 1990 and 1993, and still call themselves fiscal conservatives?" asked NTU President John Berthoud. "The answer is simple - they can't."
Berthoud unveiled an NTU analysis of recent tax hikes which found that the Senate's proposal would enact an increase 3/4 as large as the 1990 Bush tax package and nearly 1/2 as large as the 1993 Clinton tax package. Not a single member of the then-GOP minority in the Senate supported the 1993 measure.
"The tobacco legislation before the Senate is a cash cow for special interests who want a bigger place at the federal trough," Berthoud remarked. "Although some Senators won't admit it, it's the same breed of cow that was grazing on tax dollars in 1990 and 1993."
"Federal tax burdens as a percentage of our economy are at an all-time high, Berthoud added. Instead of playing a shell game between smoking and non-smoking taxpayers, Congress should cut taxes and spending for everyone, up front."
Berthoud also predicted that the burden on non-smoking taxpayers could grow worse if projected revenues from the proposed tax increases don't materialize. "Hiking 'sin' taxes can't discourage consumption and pay for Congress' wish list at the same time," he said. "The two-faced approach in this bill will either fail to curb smoking or succeed in burning non-smoking Americans with major new taxes."
"Supporters who say this settlement 'protects children' are short-sighted," Berthoud argued. "Under current policies alone, future generations could labor under a 56 percent tax burden - any proposal to add to this crushing load will impoverish our kids, not protect them."
"High-fat diets and unprotected sunbathing have been linked to health problems," Berthoud concluded. "If Congress can target one industry or activity for tax oblivion, who will they shoot at next? Butter-makers and beach bums? The Senate should avoid this slippery slope by rejecting massive new excise tax hikes."
National Taxpayers' Union is a nonpartisan citizen group unconnected with any industry or corporation. Founded in 1969, the group works for lower taxes, less wasteful spending, and accountable government at all levels.
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