Friday, September 16, 2011

Perry vs. the Lap Dance Lobby

That's the headline to this article. Here are the details:

The $5-per-customer tax on strip clubs that Perry signed in 2007—which goes by a number of nicknames, the most clever of which is the “pole tax”—was to fund an array of programs relating to sexual assault prevention and counseling, as well as subsidies for a sliver of the six million Texans without insurance. In a state with no income tax, helping those without health coverage fell to, well, those looking for women who aren’t covered. “That’s where we’ve come to,” Garnet Coleman, a Democratic state representative from Houston, told me.

The first thing that strikes me is that this seems to be legislating behavior, which apparently conservatives only like when its in regard to an act they don't find moral. The funding was supposed to go good causes. But I'm not sure there is a connection between strip clubs and sexual assault, or with health care in general. If they had data that suggested this was the case then I'm find with it.

But why limit this kind of tax to strip clubs if you are really concerned with sexual assault prevention and counseling, along with the uninsured in your state? That's an even more relevant question when you consider this:

Will the court ruling, if upheld, at least bring relief to the state’s uninsured? Well, no. The health care program that Perry was planning to use the money for was never set up, because the Bush administration in 2008 deemed it inadequate. The state’s uninsured, who include a third of all adults between 18 and 64, can continue to seek out indigent care at hospitals, or, if they live in the Rio Grande Valley, attend the annual week of free clinics run there by the Texas National Guard, which the state justifies as disaster training for the soldiers. Beyond that, Texas’ uninsured will have to wait for the new national health care law’s reforms in 2014. (That’s assuming, of course, that Perry and other anti-Obamacare governors don’t succeed in halting the law.)

Basically, it seems like Perry and the Texas legislature were trying to find revenue wherever they could. They obviously hate raising taxes on most businesses. So they probably figured no one would care if they raised them on a business many find morally objectionable. I just hope that in the next Republican primary debate someone will ask Perry if he plans to raise taxes on all strip clubs across the country. Who knows? Maybe that will be his plan to save Medicare.

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