The Knucklehead of the Day award
Today's winner is Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart. He gets the award for the following.
A cigar-store Indian and a pungent aroma greet customers at Miami's Sosa Cigars, next to the famed Versailles restaurant.The column goes on to call this a chicken little warning. Robert at 26th parallel writes-
Boxes of cigars labeled Partagás, Cohiba and Padrón rise from floor to ceiling. A table for dominoes invites smokers with time to spare. Buy a humidor, bottle of wine or guayabera to complete the look of old Havana.
''Take a picture,'' quipped U.S. Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, one of three Miami Republicans who oppose legislation expanding a popular children's health-insurance program, partly because it relies on higher cigar taxes. ``They're not going to be around much longer.''
Under a plan to pump $35 billion into the so-called SCHIP program, federal taxes on cigars would soar from 5 cents to an average of $3 per cigar, an increase of about 6,000 percent. Cigarette taxes would rise 61 cents, to $1 per pack.
''Why are they picking on us?'' demanded Sergio Pereira, who owns the Don Sergio Ramar Cigars factory in Miami. ``Cuba is rum, sugar and cigars.''
In a flame-fanning tirade on Spanish-language radio last week, Díaz-Balart called the tax hike an ''attack on the Cuban-American community.'' He added: ``It would hurt an industry specifically in Miami-Dade, in South Florida, an industry that is almost entirely Hispanic: those who make cigars by hand, which is a cultural tradition. That industry will not survive.''
I like Mario Diaz-Balart, but his sound byte calling the tax an attack on the Cuban-American community is nothing short of ridiculous. I realize politicians like to indulge in hyperbole, but that one takes the pastelito de guayaba, Mario.Calling the tax an attack on the Cuban-American community is just plain idiotic. In reality, I think the Republicans are going to take serious payback over the S-chip vote at the 2008 elections. The Democrats are going to get a compromise bill, no one argues about that. A compromise will allow the Democrats to get what they want, and hammer the Republicans as not wanting to support children or families when election time comes.
The 2008 election is going to be ugly for the Republicans and congressman like Diaz-Balart are why. You won the battle, but congressman you'll lose the war(Hillary in the White House, plus larger democratic majorities in both the House and Senate). Here is one other thing you win Mario Diaz-Balart, you are today's Knucklehead of the Day.
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