The long-awaited report, the last in a series published over the past several years by the committee, found that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, in particular, frequently made assertions in the run-up to the war that key intelligence agencies could not substantiate or about which there was substantial disagreement within the intelligence community.
“In making the case for war, the administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even nonexistent,” the Committee chairman, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, said on releasing the 172-page report. “As a result, the American people were led to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed.”
During the special session, the House proposed a more modest 50-cent increase on the excise tax, combined with an equally modest drop in Barbour’s patient tax, though the Senate and Barbour oppose even that. Seeing no immediate compromise, the House then passed a bill using $90 million from Barbour’s prized $378 million “rainy day” fund if accountants decide Medicaid cuts are needed.
Barbour responded by promising a veto of the rainy day bill.
“[I]nstead of taking up the fair and reasonable solution to fully fund Medicaid passed by the Senate … the House has voted to use $90 million in one-time money to pay for the recurring expenses of Medicaid. The purpose of this Special Session is to enact a permanent, sustainable solution for Medicaid funding. The nearly 600,000 Mississippians who depend on Medicaid don’t need a one year band-aid, but that’s what the House leadership has given them,” Barbour said in a statement.
The state’s current tobacco tax stands at 18 cents a pack, which generates about $47 million for the state every year, according to American Lung Association of Mississippi Executive Director Jennifer Cofer. Cofer added that Medicaid spends about $264 million on Mississippi residents with smoking-related health issues like lung cancer every year and called the tobacco tax increase logical.
Barbour said he opposes any tax increase in the state until a special tax study committee thoroughly studies the state’s overall tax structure later this year. Politicos predicted that Barbour—who opposes a tobacco tax increase every year lawmakers propose it—would use the tax study to mire a tobacco-tax proposal.