Much media attention has surrounded legislation funding Dirigo Health and health-care market reforms. Sadly, four articles published in different papers by different reporters trumpeted lobbyist assertions regarding the beer, wine, and soda taxes to fund Dirigo without appropriate fact-checking.Source
This Op Ed piece was published in the Portland Press Herald Wednesday past, the 14th. I am sure that the two authors, Rep. Sean Faircloth D-Bangor and Sen. Phil Bartlett D-Cumberland, are completely in earnest in their assertion that the media has distorted the facts surrounding the new Tax law. I am also betting that these two fine Gentlemen, are fully convinced that the law is for the greater good and that which these new taxes will fund, Dirigo, is a noble and needed enterprise.
To be a fair man I'll not take them to task on those particular issues as, opinions and beliefs vary, as does the conviction by which one defends said beliefs. No, I wish to address the contradictory and faulty arguments they put forth in defense of not only the tax, but also of their anger over the media's coverage. Allow me to address the latter first.
The primary contention of the article is that the media failed to research the new law to fund Dirigo sufficiently prior to going to press on several articles. The authors assert that the media relied upon the Lobbyists for the Beer and Wine industry as their main sources of information. I know not how they came to this conclusion but I daresay it is somewhat unfounded, for, as you may all know, I have been following this rather closely, and the Lobbyist of which the authors accuse of misinformation have been very quiet indeed. Probably because they did not manage to kill this legislation two years ago. In any event, if the authors had evidence of the fact that the Lobbyists did indeed mislead the media to manipulate the people would then it not have been in their best interest to add that to their piece?
I would have thought so, but evidently they felt not the need to back up their accusation of negligence with facts. Instead, the Representatives began to use misleading and somewhat false arguments in favor of the tax and Dirigo as a whole.
Let me begin with this quote;
It's important to remember that the focus of this legislation is on health care for people who need it, some of whom could die prematurely without coverage.
Those covered avoid expensive emergency-room visits that the rest of us pay for through higher premiums. By covering these people, Dirigo lowers costs imposed on the rest of us -- and saves lives.
Right, I have not met a single person in this fair state that does not know the new taxes are for to fund Dirigo. I agree it is important to remember that fact for it shows how inefficient the Dirigo program is. I also find that the above arguments, though emotive, contradict. "Some who could die prematurely" & " and saves Lives" Does it save lives? or does it have the possibility to save lives? You see by using the word " Could" in the first part, they detract from the second and do nothing to further their cause, no it simply causes confusion, perhaps that is the goal.
What is not confusing at all is the implication of the above statement that, " the costs associated with this tax are justified and that if you do not support said tax then you don't care for the people who are on the program". This is far from the truth, and to be honest a ploy, nothing more. The people of Maine understand as well as anyone the needs and costs of the Uninsured, to imply that they care not for their fellow citizens is rather low. The need for some kind of coverage is not in question.
Dirigo has failed in it's promise to cover the 130,000 Uninsured people of this State and to become self sustaining. That is a fact, pure and simple. To date about 14,000 individuals are covered by the program which is a far cry from what we were led to believe would be the case. No emotive " people will Die" scenario, straight information. I believe that the new law is egregious in that it is asking the tax payers of Maine to pay out more in subsides to Dirigo than a normal single payer policy could be.
It is this simple fact that has incurred the anger of the voters. Dirigo has failed, and now instead of seeking viable alternatives the Democratic Legislature says to it's people, you should pay more. Being a practical people, Mainers object to this logic. There is no need to continue funding that which does not work.
As these two Gentlemen continue on with their thesis they state:
First, none of the articles, including an article in this paper entitled "Drink tax repeal drive weighed," noted that 100 percent of Maine brewers are exempt from the beer tax.
This statement is a complete and utter falsehood, for the law specifically states;
1. Excise tax on malt liquor. An excise tax is imposed on the privilege of manufacturing and selling malt liquor in the State. The Maine manufacturer or importing wholesale licensee shall pay an excise tax of 25¢ per gallon on all malt liquor sold in the State that is manufactured by a manufacturer that produced a total of less than 100,000 barrels of malt liquor in the previous calendar year and 54¢ per gallon on all other malt liquor sold in the State.
So, though the Maine brewers will pay less than the larger out of state manufacturer, pay they will. Of interesting note is the fact that the above law actually hinders the Brewery industry's growth by doubling the tax once a manufacturer reaches 100,000 gallons. Business friendly Maine at it's finest.
I find it somewhat hypocritical of Rep. Faircloth and Sen. Bartlett, to make such a blatantly false statement whilst accusing the Press of not checking their facts. I for one would have thought these two Gentlemen should have at least looked at the law prior to writing their article, they did vote for it after all. I suppose that the need for fact checking rests with others, and is not their responsibility.
One last, and yes, long winded point before I lay this piece to rest. The creative and ingenious turn of phrase put forth by these two righteous souls that I found so captivating was " the Law of Beer Inertia".
Second, not one article reported on studies showing the effect of beer taxes. The "law of beer inertia" holds that adults who buy beer tend to continue to buy beer. However, studies show that higher taxes do deter a key group of people from drinking: minors -- precisely the group that society wants to dissuade from consuming alcohol.
The minute I read that highlighted phrase I smelled a rat, and as it turns out my nose was right again. Seeking out " the Law of Beer inertia" on the net for many an hour, I found no such theory or law, in either the scientific or economic world. No Bother, it seems these two men believe that by giving their particular argument, as to alcohol consumption and how taxes influence that consumption, such a grand pseudo-intellectual sounding title, it gives credibility and validity to their ideas. Perhaps, in some circles it does. I am sure that those of like mind with Rep. Faircloth find this theory quite enlightening and empowering.
I however, am not of like mind nor of status. Coming from rather simple stock I am forced to deal in reality and in so doing must dismiss this "Law" for what it is, HOGWASH, or Kool Aid if you prefer. No underage drinker ever actually calculated the tax on beer, even if they happened to be so obtuse, they certainly did not make a final purchase decision based upon a tax. The audacity to even suggest that such is the case is ridiculous and disingenuous. If as they state " Studies show" this to be then I say the studies are as faulty as the Senator's and Representative's reasoning. All one has to do is think back to your own youth.
But I must not be too harsh for these Gentlemen have given me reason to pause, contemplate and devise mine own theory of " Beer Inertia".
Blighter's Law of Beer Inertia; The more beer one consumes, the greater the possibility of that person becoming inert.
All joking aside, this last bit about Beer inertia is important in that it is indicative as to how our Representatives think. The article expresses ire and angst against media bias, when that bias falls not to that particular groups favor. OK I'll say it Liberal. It spews forth misinformation at every turn of phrase and does nothing to really address the issues surrounding the new Tax law or Dirigo as a whole.
This OP Ed Piece, is simply Kool Aid, nothing more. It attempts to justify the actions of a tax and spend government with falsehoods and emotive arguments. The writers must honestly believe that the people of Maine are simply too lazy or besotted, with their sinful beer consumption, to see the God's honest truth of the matter.
Fortunately for us, Representative Faircloth and Senator Bartlett, will be sharing the tax burden with us. Kool Aid is also to be taxed under this law, as they are such grand purveyors of the drink I am sure the State's Coffer's will be filled to over brimming with their contributions in no time.