Johnson County shenanigans, cigarette tax tomfoolery
The Kansas City Star
Steve Klika is facing off against Terry Presta for a seat on the nonpartisan Johnson County Commission. Naturally, that makes Klika part of President Barack Obama’s conspiracy to bankrupt America.
Wait a minute: What?
Unfortunately, Klika and some other local and state candidates are being linked for no legitimate reasons to Obama’s policies. Republicans are hoping they can use some parts of the president’s plans that are unpopular with many Kansans and Missourians to help sink Democrats in races that have nothing to do with national issues.
In Klika’s case, a mailer from Presta features a picture of Obama and asks: “Can your family afford the Obama-Klika agenda?”
Here’s a little secret: There is no “Obama-Klika agenda.”
Read the fine print, and the mailer is slamming Klika for — we’re not making this up — belonging to the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.
In reality, Klika brings years of solid, local credentials to the race. He’s been a leader on the Blue Valley School District’s board of education and has indepth knowledge on the county’s growing transit needs.
But Presta doesn’t have that level or length of ties to local issues. Instead, he wants to inject politics into a nonpartisan race, rather than discuss the kinds of issues the commission really deals with, such as keeping strong core services for Johnson County.
Klika deserves election next Tuesday to the 3rd District seat.
One needn’t have mastered calculus to wonder how increasing Missouri’s cigarette tax from 17 cents to 90 cents a pack amounts to an “outrageous and unfair” 760 percent tax increase, as opponents of Proposition B are fond of repeating.
That figure isn’t so much a mathematic error as it is a deliberate attempt to mislead the public.
Along with increasing the tax on tobacco products, Prop B closes a loophole in Missouri law that gives an unfair pricing advantage to smaller tobacco companies that weren’t part of the 1998 legal settlement between states and the four “Big Tobacco” companies.
Leveling the playing field will add about 57 cents a pack to the price of off-brand cigarettes, along with the 73-cent tobacco tax increase.
But the off-brand cigarettes amount to at most 15 percent of the market in Missouri. For most cigarettes sold, the tax will go up 429 percent.
That sounds hefty, but remember we’re starting from a base of 17 cents. And since we’re talking percentages, consider these: Missouri’s cigarette tax is 11 percent of the national average. It is a paltry 17 percent of the average of our eight border states.
At 90 cents a pack, Missouri’s tax on cigarettes would still be only 60 percent of the national average, and 88 percent of the average of the border states.
The only thing outrageous and unfair are the claims that opponents are making. Proposition B would be good for the state’s health and its schools and deserves approval on Tuesday.
Redeeming Todd Akin
The Republican family just can’t bring itself to excommunicate Todd Akin. He’s the embarrassing uncle whom respectable folks don’t want to be seen with in public, but they quietly pay his bills because, just maybe, he’s got a treasure stashed away away in the attic.
Akin, as we know, mightily embarrassed the Republican party in August with his “legitimate rape” comment. At the time, he could have withdrawn from the race and been replaced by a more reputable candidate. The grownups of the GOP tried mightily to convince him to do that. Forget about any help from us, they said. No money, no moral support in the race against incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill.
But Akin stood firm, and now the cash is flowing in. He has received almost $400,000 from the Missouri Republican Party and $800,000 from a political action committee called Now or Never. Both contributions are mysterious.
The state Republican Party had too little money as of mid-October to fund its ad buy. Did the National Republican Senatorial Committee help out, despite vowing not to? Its officials won’t say.
Now or Never has received nearly $2 million since August from a non-profit group called Americans for Limited Government. ALG is connected with Howard Rich, a wealthy New York developer with libertarian leanings. The PAC also has connections to Republican political consultants Jeff Roe and Patrick Touhey, both of the Kansas City area.
The treasure in the attic would of course be a Republican U.S. Senate seat. And it seems the Republican establishment has decided that even the embarrassing uncle is preferable to a Democratic victory. Missourians know better.