'Racist': Does the GOP Know the Meaning?

Jamelle Bouie, at the Daily Beast, tackles a Republican lawmaker's unwittingly absurd comment that the president's tax on tanning beds is, um, "racist" because black people don't use them. 

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President Barack Obama (Mandel Ngan/Getty Images)

In a piece at the Daily Beast, Jamelle Bouie weighs in on a Republican lawmaker's unwittingly absurd comment that the president's tax on tanning beds is, um, "racist" because black people do not use them. The only way to describe the tax as "racist," Bouie writes, "is to turn the word into a mindless insult."

If this sounds a little strange, just think about the health implications of sitting under ultraviolet light for hours at a time. Risk for melanoma increases by 75 percent when people begin tanning before the age of 35, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. One study found that tanning beds cause roughly 170,000 cases of skin cancer each year, and at one point the Food and Drug Administrationproposed banning bed use by customers under 18. When it comes to lowering costs in the health-care system, reducing skin cancer incidence by encouraging people not to use tanning beds is low-hanging fruit.

Of course, for every sensible step taken by the Obama administration, there’s at least one Republican who sees it as a sinister plot to rob Americans of their freedom.

In this case, it’s Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida, who recently revived the tired attack against the tax (John McCain and Snooki railed against it back in 2010) with a disturbing new twist. “It’s a racist tax,” Yoho, who is white, recently told a group of constituents, because dark-skinned people don’t need to tan. “I thought I might need to get to a tanning booth so I can come out and say I’ve been disenfranchised, because I got taxed because of the color of my skin.”

Read Jamelle Bouie's entire piece at the Daily Beast.

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