CLT Update
Tuesday, March 27, 2001

Substance abuse on Beacon Hill

[State Sen. Marian Walsh] and other backers of the proposed tax say that while substance abuse-related spending makes up nearly 17 percent of the state budget -- $2.6 billion in 1998, according to one study -- alcoholic beverage producers and drinkers have essentially received a tax break over the past 22 years.

The Boston Globe
Tues., Mar. 27, 2001
Alcohol tax plan sets off debate
[full report below]

That quote is priceless! Beer and wine drinkers have received "a tax break" because over the years they have escaped a tax increase! That's better than a spending increase labeled a cut if it's not considered a big enough increase.

This is convoluted logic only a true tax-and-spend liberal can propound with a straight face. Do they really believe this stuff, or just make it up to rationalize the next money grab?

It's got to be the latter: even they can't honestly think we're that gullible, that downright stupid. But when you note the twisted, deceptive way they accumulate a staggering cost that suddenly needs a new revenue source, yeah, they must think we're that stupid.

The More Is Never Enough crowd is now scheming to impose a new sales tax on alcoholic beverages to help fund $2.6 billion in spending -- "nearly 17 percent of the state budget" -- that has nothing whatsoever to do with the targeted vast majority, social drinkers. As in the Carrie Nation days of prohibition zealotry, they would have us believe that demon alcohol is at the root of all evil. (Tobacco was yesterday's bugaboo, but they've vacuumed those deep pockets already.)

They're not even honest if misguided prohibitionists. The last thing they want to do is kill the cash cow of tobacco and alcohol excise taxes. They just want a bigger share of the profits.

Yesterday's initial report in the Boston Globe gives us a clear picture of how far these faux-prohibitionists must stretch to fabricate a crisis amount in their attempt to rationalize a tax increase:

"According to the New York-based National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Massachusetts' courts, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Social Services, and other agencies ate up an estimated 17 percent of state spending in 1998 to deal with the aftermath of drug, alcohol, and tobacco addiction and abuse.

"More than $2.6 billion was spent paying for public health programs, giving foster care for children of alcohol- and drug-abusing parents, prosecuting drunk drivers, imprisoning drug dealers, and providing welfare for drug addicts and alcoholics, the group said."

For the moment, leave aside the $8.3 billion tobacco settlement that more than satisfies "tobacco addiction and abuse" expenditures and is piling up in a state "trust fund." They would now have us believe that Joe Six-Pack is responsible for all of society's ills and should be forced to pay more.

It's quite obvious that we have a serious substance-abuse crisis in our midst. The insatiable addiction demands more and more always. It is a self-deluding and insidious abuse that knows no limitation. It is centered on Beacon Hill, and the substance is taxes.

Chip Ford

The Boston Globe
Tuesday, March 27, 2001

Alcohol tax plan sets off debate
Treatment fund idea draws mixed reaction

By Ralph Ranalli
Globe Staff

Senate President Thomas F. Birmingham said yesterday that he is leaning toward letting a controversial proposal for a new 5 percent retail alcohol tax come to the Senate floor for debate this year.

Birmingham, however, said he had not decided yet whether to support Senator Marian Walsh's bill, which would raise an estimated $57 million for a special substance abuse prevention and treatment fund.

"We do take controversial matters to the floor of the Senate," Birmingham said. "That would be my predisposition, but we'll have to see how the process works. It's premature to say."

Reaction to the West Roxbury Democrat's tax proposal yesterday ranged from House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran's calling it "interesting" to an announcement by Citizens for Limited Taxation that it will form a political action committee, "Joe Six-PAC," to block the proposal.

"Read our wine-sipping lips, Senator Walsh: No new taxes," Barbara Anderson, leader of the taxation group, said in a statement. "People who use but do not abuse alcohol are not responsible for increased health care costs relative to alcohol abuse... We will fight you at the package store, in the tavern, at the ballpark, and from our reclining chair in front of the television."

Birmingham and Finneran said that they support the aim of the bill -- more spending on substance abuse prevention and treatment -- but that any new tax would be tough to sell.

Finneran said it was "very clear that any tax increase is going to require a two-thirds vote" to override a veto from the Cellucci-Swift administration, which has opposed new taxes and won voter approval last year for an income tax cut.

Walsh, meanwhile, was busy yesterday lining up witnesses to testify at a May 9 hearing on her bill. She and other backers of the proposed tax say that while substance abuse-related spending makes up nearly 17 percent of the state budget -- $2.6 billion in 1998, according to one study -- alcoholic beverage producers and drinkers have essentially received a tax break over the past 22 years. Since the last increase in the alcohol excise tax in 1979, the real dollar value of the revenue has dropped by more than 50 percent.

Lieutenant Governor Jane M. Swift confirmed that the administration would veto the bill.

"We don't want the state getting into these value-laden discussions," Swift said. "... That's a big-government, liberal mentality that we'll decide what's good and bad for you and whatever we decide is bad for you, we'll tax heavily."

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