Late last week, a team of Republicans in the House of Representatives introduced H.R. 2092, a bill that is devoted solely to providing a 10 percent tax reduction that only applies to indoor tanning salons. Indoor tanning salons are places where people who want an artificially-induced change in their skin coloration pay to lie down in electronic devices that expose them to high doses of ultraviolet radiation that produce a systemic injury that includes the reaction of a temporary darkening of the skin that is commonly known as “tanning”.
A more permanent result of such exposure of the skin to ultraviolet radiation is cancer. Some skin cancers can result in death. The Skin Cancer Foundation references a study published in 2006 that concluded that, in 2004 alone, the cost of treating skin cancer in the United States was $1.5 billion. Verisante, a company that specializes in cancer detection, estimates the annual cost of treating skin cancer at $2.5 billion dollars.
A good amount of the eruptions of skin cancer that take place every year are caused by the use of indoor tanning salons. However, indoor tanning salons have paid none of the billions of dollars that skin cancer treatment takes out of the economy. The cost is paid by the American people, in the increased cost of health insurance.
In order to compensate for this economic drag caused by tanning salons, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act included a 10 percent excise tax specifically on indoor tanning salons. H.R. 2092 seeks to eradicate this tax, allowing indoor tanning salons to gain more profit from exposing people to conditions known to cause cancer. H.R. 2092 would shift the cost of the skin cancer caused by indoor tanning salons back to the American people.
Who would support such a bill? 23 members of the House of Representatives do, actually. Their names are:
Michael Grimm (Republican-NY, District 13), Marsha Blackburn (Republican-TN, District 7), Jason Chaffetz (Republican-UT, District 3), Rick Crawford (Republican-AR, District 1), Jeff Denham (Republican-CA, District 19), Frank Guinta (Republican-NH, District 1), Brett Guthrie (Republican-KY, District 2), Richard Hanna (Republican-NY, District 24), Tim Huelskamp (Republican-KS, District 1), Bill Huizenga (Republican-MI, District 2), Lynn Jenkins (Republican-KS, District 2), Thaddeus McCotter (Republican-MI, District 11), Mike Pompeo (Republican-KS, District 4), Reid Ribble (Republican-WI, District 8), Steve Stivers (Republican-OH, District 15), Marlin Stutzman (Republican-IN, District 3), Lee Terry (Republican-NE, District 2), Patrick Tiberi (Republican-OH, District 12), Lynn Westmoreland (Republican-GA, District 3), Kevin Yoder (Republican-KS, District 3), Todd Young (Republican-IN, District 9)
Why are these members of Congress working to promote a bill that increases the economic burden on the American people, while giving a tax break to businesses that put their customers’ lives at risk? Are they being bribed to support this bill?
The answer isn’t clear. Perhaps, some of these U.S. Representatives are being paid off for their support for H.R. 2092. Yet, probably, most of them are not being bribed.
The following co-sponsors of H.R. 2092 received donations from the political action committee of the Indoor Tanning Association in the 2010 election cycle:
Marsha Blackburn – $1,000
Sam Graves – $2,000
Richard Hanna – $250
Lynn Jenkins – $1,500
Mike Tiberi – $1,000
Lee Terry – $2,500
- The chance that a member of the entire House of Representatives got a financial contribution during the 2010 congressional election cycle from the PAC of the Indoor Tanning Association: 5.3 percent
- The chance that one of the sponsors of H.R. 2092, a bill to lower the taxes paid by indoor tanning salons, got a financial contribution during the 2010 congressional election cycle from the PAC of the Indoor Tanning Association: 26.1 percent
There is a clear relationship between support for H.R. 2092 and financial contributions from the Indoor Tanning Association, but it isn’t a thorough and dominating relationship. Furthermore, we can’t know what the direction of cause and effect between contributions and co-sponsorship is. It’s possible that the Indoor Tanning Association is simply rewarding members of Congress who have a personal affection for indoor tanning salons.
Many cosponsors of H.R. 2092 haven’t received direct donations from the Indoor Tanning Association over the last two years. Of course, it could be that these members of Congress have knowingly benefited from independent expenditures that originate from Indoor Tanning companies. The current loose system of campaign finance regulation makes such payments easy to make, and easy to keep hidden from public scrutiny.
It’s probably likely, though, that at least some cosponsors of H.R. 2092 have supported the bill for ideological reasons. The cosponsors of the tax reduction for tanning salons are all Republicans, and Republicans espouse opposition to taxes and regulation. So, it may be that many of the congressional supporters of H.R. 2092 are simply willing to expose the American people to higher medical insurance costs, and to increased cancer risk, because they have a theoretical faith in that what’s good for business must be good for America.