More Cigarette Taxes? How Weird!

Having just cast aspersions of the journalism of Janet Hook in her WSJ article on wafting bipartisanship, I’d hasten to say she’d deserve a Pulitzer for it if the only competition were a ridiculous Chris Good piece at ABC about the “weird” and “quirky” tax proposals buried in Obama’s budget.

Good identifies five revenue raisers as self-evidently risible: (1) eliminating an exemption from distilled spirits taxes for flavored vodkas (“Obama wants to tax your Stoli Razberi”); (2) eliminating the practice of claiming land conservation tax credits for golf courses; (3) boosting federal cigarette taxes to pay for a national pre-K program (“Obama smokes from time to time”); (4) getting rid of the corporate jet tax write off (“Perhaps a dead horse by now, but Obama is still beating it”); and (5) stopping businesses from writing off punitive damages they are assessed, typically for egregiously harmful behavior.

As you may have guessed by now, I don’t share Good’s amusement at any of these proposals, and I have a pretty good sense of humor. The whole thing seems to add up to one of those “if it moves, liberals will tax it” kind of “stories” that conservatives trot out before April 15 every year. It’s less news coverage than agitprop disguised as stand-up, but I’m sure it will get good circulation at golf resort clubhouses where tobacco executives smarting from punitive damages meet to sip Stoli Razberi and complain about Obama before boarding their corporate jets to go home.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.