PROP 10: Rob Reiner Takes His Message National
Rob Reiner's for Proposition 10 received a host of media attention this week, including a spot on NBC's "Today Show," features in national magazines and coverage in newspapers throughout the country. The initiative, which will be decided by California voters Nov. 3, would raise the state cigarette tax an additional 50 cents per pack and use the resulting estimated $700 million in revenue to fund early childhood intervention programs.
- Reiner and Bill Campbell, a consultant for No On Prop. 10, debated Wednesday on "Today." Campbell: "The tax, itself, represents the largest tax in the history of California on working poor people in California. ... I've been around government long enough to know that if you put $750 million out there, you're going to have an awful lot of people who are bureaucrats who are going to jump on board and try and spend that money." Reiner: "The burden isn't on smokers. The burden is on the tobacco industry" (10/21).
- Time magazine calls Prop. 10 "one of the more ambitious pieces of social legislation ever crafted on a state level." The No On Prop. 10 group has the endorsement of Los Angeles Times political columnist George Skelton, who asks, "So Big Brother, what's next? A surtax on beer? Red meat? American cheddar?" But Reiner and his Yes On Prop. 10 campaign "have cleverly lined up a cast of conservative backers" that includes former GOP Senate candidate Michael Huffington, Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan (R) and Pat Boone, all in the attempt to avert a "Big Government" label. And in a radio spot, National Rifle Association President Charlton Heston declares, "Prop. 10 is antibureaucratic. That's the kind of local control I support" (Hornblower, 10/26 issue).
- The Washington Post reported that Prop. 10 "could be the start of a national movement to more heavily tax cigarettes to bankroll a broad range of programs." If voters pass the initiative, "other states are sure to follow with their own propositions to squeeze the tobacco companies and smokers of cash." On the other hand, if the measure doesn't pass, "it may derail efforts in Congress and elsewhere to punish the cigarette companies." American Lung Association Vice President Tony Najera said, "This is a war, and the tobacco industry knows what happens in California will occur in other parts of the country" (Booth, 10/22).
- The Christian Science Monitor reported that as Reiner stumps for his cause in Los Angeles, "a fantasy-factory town often disparaged for lending shallow celebrity voices to the issue du jour," he is "winning accolades for putting far more than his name and fame into a long-term case." Because of the beyond-the-call-of-duty involvement of former "Meathead," policy analysts say "there is a good chance voters will approved what experts call the most comprehensive early-childhood-development services in the nation" (Wood, 10/20).
- The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the "list of 137 contributors to the Yes on Proposition 10 campaign has more silver screen glitter than Glinda the Good Witch's magic wand." If "pre-election figures hold up, California voters will join the stars and pass the made-in-Hollywood Proposition 10." The losers, the Chronicle reports, would be smokers and the tobacco companies, which is "expected to spend $15 million in television advertising to get voters to reject the proposition." The No On 10 ads "are banking on Californians' long-standing aversion to new taxes, and hope to convince voters that an enormous amount of tax money is about to be placed in the hands of a huge, unaccountable bureaucracy." Jane Armstrong, head of the Alliance of California Taxpayers and Involved Voters, said Prop. 10 was "good for kids, but extremely bad policy" (Russell, 10/22).
- Today's Sacramento Bee reports that polls reveal "support for the measure has fallen." While an August poll showed backers out-numbering opponents by a 56%-34% margin, a "recent Field Poll indicated that 48% of likely voters favored it while 33% were opposed" (Bernstein, 10/23).