Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Smokers, Coal Users, Doctors, Hospitals Asked to Help / Committee Seeks Assistance in Reducing Federal Deficit

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Smokers, Coal Users, Doctors, Hospitals Asked to Help / Committee Seeks Assistance in Reducing Federal Deficit

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) - Smokers, coal users, doctors and hospitals are being asked by the House Ways and Means Committee to share an extra burden in the battle to slash the federal deficit.

A committee plan would make permanent the 16-cent-a-pack tax on cigarettes, boost the special coal tax that finances benefits for miners suffering from black-lung disease, limit government paymentsto hospitals and doctors treating Medicare patients, and prohibit large employers from reducing a worker's health coverage because of age.

The panel, meeting in closed session, approved the bill Wednesday on a 22-14 vote as other lawmakers struggled to develop a target budget for the government. Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, D-Ill., chairmanof the committee, said the panel's work proves ""that deficits are as worrisome as ever before.''

""We have once again met our budget target without cutting the nation's safety net,'' he added. ""We made cuts in Medicare without hurting the beneficiary. We raised no new taxes.''

The bill would cut the deficit by about $19 billion over the next three years. During that period, the deficit is expected to total in the $600 billion range.

In addition to the tax changes and the spending restrictions, the bill includes a provision requiring the states to provide Aid to Families with Dependent Children to two-parent families whose principal earner is without a job. In 27 states, one parent is required to leave the home before the family can qualify for welfare.

Here are other major provisions of the committee bill:

%E The federal tax on cigarettes, now 16 cents a pack, would be frozen at that level. Under present law, enacted in 1982 as part of another deficit-cutting bill, the tax is scheduled to drop to8 cents on Oct. 1. The extension would bring in $4.9 billion during the three years. Under the bill, 1 cent per pack of the tax would be earmarked for federal programs for tobacco farmers.

The panel defeated several other cigarette amendments, including one by Rep. …

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