The Corner

Smokers Don’t Count

In case you’re wondering, the vote on SCHIP — to raise tobacco taxes by 61 cents a pack — does not qualify as a violation of the ATR Taxpayer Protection Pledge. ATR officials told me yesterday that the wording of the pledge was specifically designed to prevent marginal rate increases to the income and capital gains tax, not to prevent excise taxes.

Either way, because higher tobacco taxes are an unreliable stream of revenue — making for fewer smokers in the future — they will have to raise some other tax in the future. So be warned: you said nothing when they came for the smokers, and you’re next.

In any case, the following members — even though they did not break their pledge against raising taxes — voted for a very large tax increase yesterday:

Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Kit Bond (R-Mo.), Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), and John Sununu (R-N.H.).

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