After booze tax increases in New York and Massachusetts, now it's time for moderate-drinking residents of Illinois and North Carolina to celebrate being taxed more than their fellow citizens just because they like having a cocktail before dinner or a beer with the game. Taxes go up tomorrow in both states. I can only assume that New Dry organizations in the states and in the national hives (Marin, PIRE, yeah, I'm talking about you) are dancing with glee as short-sighted state governments pile on the pain by raising taxes during a recession.
I mean...a lot of these states have balanced-budget amendments. But it appears that to almost every legislator and governor, those requirements mean nothing about keeping spending in check; no, they're about a need to raise taxes. Sin taxes. Regressive taxes. I know the cries: "It's only a nickel!" (It never is: either it's a producer tax that ripples and expands, or it's a direct tax that's more by the time it gets to someone drinking good stuff) "Drinking is a luxury!" (So's candy, but there's no special tax on that. (Actually, there is: Illinois taxed that, too; see comments, below) Okay, pets are a luxury, and there's no tax on them!) "Drinking costs billions!" (Really? Check your figures. The whole booze biz also puts billions back into the economy.) "Drinking is a sin!" (Who let him in? I thought we got rid of you back in 1933. Anyway, your mom's a sin, but we don't tax her.)
Here's a cry for you: booze taxes unfairly tax lower-income citizens. Is that the kind of thing you want to do during the worst recession in decades? Way to go, Mr. Progressive.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania has apparently dodged the bullet again, if Governor Rendell's latest lame joke is any indicator.
"The media's low-paid and high consumers." - Gov. Rendell, joking in a Harrisburg news conference this week about the state budget and the politics that determined that an increase in beer taxes would not find support.