May 24, 2005

Tim Pawlenty (R - Minnesota) vs. Grover Norquist (R - K Street)

Grover Norquist, who is generally opposed to all things public, is pretty angry with Tim Pawlenty.

The sad thing about this is, that in proving that he is not "a pawn of the Taxpayers League" (the Minnesota state-level chapter of Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform), Pawlenty has not done much to solve his states financial shortfall. Instead, he's pushing a temporary-fix cigarette tax.

As this ITEP policy brief shows, taxing cigarettes is regressive and increasingly ineffective. Cigarette taxes make a larger impact on low-income workers than on their wealthier peers. Also (and this is arguably a good thing) cigarette taxes seem to reduce smoking. Taxes aside, smoking has been on the decline for the past few decades anyway. The problem there is that as smoking reduces, so does revenue from the new tax. All this means that the next governor of Minnesota--should the state follow Pawlenty's lead--will be left with a similar budget problem in a few years.


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