FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Health care reform won't come cheap, and that's why lawmakers are considering higher taxes on everything from alcohol and cigarettes to junk food and soda as a way to pay for it. The Senate Finance Committee is looking into how to pay for this massive overhaul, which could cost $1.5 trillion over 10 years.
So-called sin taxes may raise $600 billion over the next decade.
Several experts are suggesting taxes on bad behavior, including a $2 dollar tax on a pack of cigarettes and a higher excise tax on alcohol.
Politico reports that the ranking Republican on the committee, Senator Chuck Grassley is nixing the idea of taxing soda and sugary drinks. But it's easy to see why so-called sin taxes are appealing - taxing cigarettes, junk foods and alcohol could raise $600 billion over 10 years.
A recent poll found support among Americans for imposing such taxes to help pay for health care reform. The Kaiser Family Foundation survey shows 61 percent of those polled say they would be in favor of raising taxes on items that are thought to be unhealthy - like cigarettes, alcohol, junk food and soda. 37 percent are opposed.
When asked about specific items, there's more support for taxing cigarettes and alcohol than snack foods and soda.
But before you start hoarding your beer and chips, Congress is also looking at other ways to pay for reform - like eliminating the tax-free status of company health benefits along with non-health related options like capping the deduction on charitable donations.
Here’s my question to you: Is taxing cigarettes, alcohol and junk food a good way to pay for health care reform?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
S. in St. Louis, Missouri
Dear Jack, Every time they want to raise taxes, they stick it to little guy; lower-income people at the poverty level are the ones who will feel the brunt of this taxation.
Scott from Freeport, Illinois writes:
Jack, I’m a smoker and I agree that we should enforce higher taxes on cigarettes, junk food and soda. These are things that are not good for us and maybe it'll keep us healthier in the long run by thinking twice about buying these items. Health care is essential for all Americans and if this will allow us to pay for and afford health care, then why not.
Gail from St. Paul, Minnesota writes:
Jack, Smokers are already taxed to the max. My husband and I became addicted to cigarettes when we were teenagers in the 1960s. Cigarettes were cheap, and the government was generously subsidizing tobacco growers. We have tried repeatedly to quit. As you know, addiction is a disease. Anyone who says he or she quit easily wasn't addicted. So we're among the chosen scapegoats
Tom from Alexandria, Virginia writes:
Ethical behavior by the health care and pharma industry is the real problem. As long as the industry is allowed to push pills and medical advice through advertising, people will take treatments and drugs that they don't really need because of the fear created by the propaganda that the industry puts out. The industry's goal is to make profits not help people.
Jack, I'll tell you whether I favor taxing junk food as soon as you give me an exact definition of what junk food is. Too tough to define? Then we shouldn't tax it.
What is the controversy? Those who persist in creating a health care crisis by ingesting crap into their bodies should pay for their vices. Why should I, as a non-smoker, non-drinker, gym-goer pay higher health care costs for the indulgences of the mindless?