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Posted by on Oct 30, 2007 in Health, Politics | 10 comments

Tobacco Tax Increase Bush Sticking Point On Revised Children’s Health Care


Have we now come down to the “nitty gritty” on why President George Bush is so absolutely adamant on nixing the expanded or even the REVISED expanded children’s health care…even though it has wide bipartisan support?

It turns out he is adamant on one fact. He will not support any bill that includes a tobacco tax increase:

President Bush told Republican lawmakers on Tuesday he will not agree to legislation expanding children’s health insurance if it includes a tobacco tax increase, a decision that virtually ensures a renewed veto struggle with the Democratic-controlled Congress.

And there you have it
. These are the days when educators, schools and presenters who go into elementary, junior and high schools try to warn kids about the dangers of tobacco. On a more personal note — something I seldom do on this weblog — I have been doing just that in October in my anti-drug program in schools which also includes a vigorous warning to kids about tobacco usage.

I’ve been doing this for many years — way before May 27th when my World War II veteran father Richard Gandelman who had survived the Great Depression, the war, raising three baby boomer kids, a host of illnesses including a cancer in remission, died after waging a courageous but futile battle against lung cancer. He had been a smoker all of his life until he quit some years ago via hypnosis. But he quit too late…

The last time I saw him in Connecticut he had lost 25 lbs. and gifted me a ring of his because he had already lost his wedding ring which slipped off his finger due to his weight loss. He sat at the kitchen table and joked about being able to eat seconds and even thirds of ice cream without gaining weight. He was on bottled oxygen the last six months of his life and when he breathed, he gurgled. He died two weeks after I last saw him. He was within a hair of dying of cancer when pneumonia finally took him.

So at a time in the United States when health officials, school officials, teachers and cancer victims are warning youngsters not to smoke, the President is clearly putting himself on the side of tobacco…and he has a long history of being there.

But will up-until-now loyal Republicans go along with THIS? Perhaps not this time:

The president also suggested he would not be willing to sign other types of tax increases that Democrats have attached to major legislation, including an energy bill, according to numerous officials who attended a closed-door meeting at the White House.

Bush’s remarks represented a hardening of the administration’s public position in a running veto showdown over Democratic-led attempts to enact legislation that provides coverage for 6 million children who now lack it. The officials who disclosed his comments did so on condition of anonymity, saying they were made in a closed-door meeting.

The president vetoed one children’s health bill, and Democrats failed to override him in the House.

His threat to veto a replacement measure that cleared the House last week has led to a hurried round of negotiations among lawmakers in both parties and both houses.

Their goal is to reach a compromise that can command enough votes to gain the two-thirds majority needed in both houses to override the president’s veto, if necessary.

The negotiations were private, but in an ominous sign for the White House, Republican leaders said during the day they might defy a White House veto.

Bush can couch this in the lofty rhetoric of him opposing tax increases. And he has already made it clear that his ideology takes precedence over allowing the original version of children’s health care from going through.

But in this instance he is making it abundantly clear what his values appear to be: to prevent a tax increase on his longtime big tobacco buddies that would help raise money and perhaps continue the trend towards making tobacco products more costly to those who make the unhealthy decision to use them — and make it increasingly inconvenient for young people to get started on an often tragic and ill-fated path.


Bush veto gives victory to tobacco industry
George Bush and Tobacco
Bush Administration Tobacco Industry Ties
Prosecutor Says Bush Appointees Interfered With Tobacco Case
Bush’s Budget Underfunds Tobacco Lawsuit
Tobacco Companies Expect ‘Bush Dividend’ (2000)
Texas Seeks Sanctions Against Gov. Bush Over Tobacco Deal
Bush Accused of Catering to Big Tobacco on Global Treaty
George W. Bush: Putting Tobacco Companies Before Kids
Former government lawyer describes Bush administration meddling in landmark tobacco suit
The Tobacco Presidency
Bush Reportedly Tobacco Industry Favorite (2000)
Tobacco Money Flows Both Ways
Tobacco Money Shifts To Republican (1997)
Tobacco-Free Schools Fact Sheet (American Lung Association)
Tobacco education in the primary school: Paradoxes for the teacher
Guidelines for School Health Programs to Prevent Tobacco Use and Addiction (CDC)
Secondary School Tobacco Education Pack
Tobacco Education Posters

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