February 3, 2011

Up in Smoke

Thus far, we've been pleasantly surprised by new Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's stewardship of the state over the past month. He has proven himself more willing to push a fiscally-conservative agenda than even his last Republican predecessor, George Pataki. And his aggressive stance on Medicaid spending certainly warms our hearts, having concluded long ago that that particular give-away program was going to bankrupt either New York State or middle-class taxpayers before long.

So, when we heard that he was going to wade into the fever swamps of Indian cigarette taxation, we rolled our eyes. Then shuddered. Then felt a pang for nicotine we haven't felt since our misspent youth.

In case you lost track, the Buffalo News hasn't: this makes Cuomo the fifth governor to vow to collect taxes on native smokes. Maybe he sees it as unfinished business from his father's long-ago administration. Maybe he just sees the handful of Indian smoke shops around the state and the few remaining smokers that shop there as worthy of his attentions as governor. Regardless, it seems pretty stupid to us.

First, we'll readily acknowledge that New York State's government has the right to collect taxes on Indian cigarettes. But that doesn't make it smart policy. The Indian tribes are hostile to the state's collection efforts. So far, it has cost the state far more in lost casino revenue than non-existant cigarette tax collections—and in turn, has increased budget pressure on places like Niagara Falls, which can't survive without that casino revenue.

And then there's the whole tire-burning thing.

Cuomo should do what none of his predecessors have been smart enough to do, and realize that nothing good will come from pursuing this policy—before his administration's promising start goes up in smoke.

Chief Andrew would do better to bust out the peace pipe.

1 comment:

John Henry said...

The "peace pipe?" Seriously? I suppose your answer to racial tension between whites and african americans is a watermelon-and-fried-chicken picnic, too?