Friday, September 29, 2006


Remember “California Kids First”, the state commission led by Rob Reiner. It received money from tobacco taxes especially geared to this Commission and its goals to “help” children. It has been several months and the Attorney General can’t even spell Reiners name or remember who is “investigating” the $23 million (that we know of) that was ripped off for purely political purposes. This was a theft larger than the one of the corner liquor store, where the culprit got 3-5 years in prison. Of course this was Rob Reiner and he did it for a “noble” cause.

Now the same people behind that tobacco tax have come up with a new “noble” cause. This noble cause will help the hospitals take care of the poor and needy–that is what they say it will do.

Instead it provides for legal cover for hospitals to do the following:

1. Allows the hospital to operate with a special exemption from anti-trust laws. Remember Tenet Healthcare–that was the hospital chain (which could have received money from this measure) that was found price gouging the poor. The exemption would help price gouging hospitals, protecting bad acts by hospitals.

Mother Jones: Pocket Protector
KB Forbes has become one of America’s most powerful advocates for the uninsured, chiefly by attacking hospitals’ practice of billing uninsured patients up …

2. It would amend the California constitution to include illegal aliens under 19 (who are under the poverty level) to get free health care. This is done by doing away with the proviso in the California Healthy Families Program that only citizens and legal immigrants qualify for this “service”.

3. Prop. 86 allows unlimited prices for services to the poor in emergency rooms–this then allows the hospitals to use tax dollars to subsidize their treatment (by calling it an emergency) of every illegal alien that walks in the door with a sniffle.

4. Government can’t monitor the political use of $23 million of tax money for political purposes from tobacco taxes, then how can it monitor two billion dollars a year?

5. Of course, this is a good program since it sets up “needed” mandates, that go on, regardless of the money available. As taxes on cigarettes go up, and as people stop smoking, the revenues will go down. But, the mandates will stay in place–try taking away a “needed” service, just try. That means the General Fund will either have to raise regular taxes or cut other services–since services are never cut–this is a tax increase down the road on businesses and families.

6. The hospitals have written this self-serving Initiative so that the taxes raised by it do not go to education. All other taxes in California, per Prop. 40, have 40% of the amount raised going to education. Not the hospitals–they wrote Prop. 86 so not a dime goes to education–it all goes to those that wrote it–nice of you can get away with it. The hospitals that will receive the money, with almost no oversite, have exempted themselves with a Constitutional Exemption (section 15). Don’t you wish you could pass a measure to assure that you get tax dollars, and only you?

7. Law enforcement is strongly against this measure–not because they don’t like taxes on cigarettes or want health care for the poor. The law enforcement organizations, such as the Deputies Sheriffs Association of San Diego and the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, oppose this because of the experiences of New York and some other East Coast cities. The smuggling of truckloads of cigarettes into New York City is a scandal. The World Bank estimates that 30% of all cigarette exports wind up on the black market

A single truckload of stolen smokes could bring $2 million on the street. We are talking about BIG BUCKS. According to the San Diego folks mentioned above, California already loses hundreds of millions in tax revenues due to smuggling and tax evasion. Add $2.60 a packet and see that go to to billions.

8. If the purpose of this measure is to get kids to stop smoking, than why does only 10% of the taxes raised go to non-smoking programs for children?

9. Go to the Washington Post of June 22, 2002, the Post of June 8, 2004 and the Detroit News of March 30, 2004. Look for articles of how terrorists used the profits of black market cigarette sales to help finance terrorists groups. Will Prop. 86 bring this to California?

10. Vote NO, for the children. Don’t put more debt on their shoulders. Don’t put more crime on their shoulders. Don’t show them that money can buy government, through the Initiative process. Don’t let children see that for-profit hospitals promoting themselves like a bank selling home loans to illegal aliens–the hospitals will almost immediately upon passage promote themselves to illegal aliens as the place to get free health care. Let our children know the Rule of Law is to be upheld, even by hospitals.

Tell our children to stop smoking, don’t use smoking as an excuse to raise taxes so hospitals can be exempted from numerous laws.

Steve Frank is the publisher of California Political News and Views and a Senior Contributor to He is also a consultant currently working on gambling issues and advising other consultants on policy and coalition building.

Read more of his work here or at his blog.

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