At a Saturday town hall meeting in Gainesville, Fla., Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) discussed his conversation with House Speaker John Boehner about a provision in the Affordable Care Act that he considered to be "racist": the plan's 10 percent tax on tanning beds.
"I had a little fun with Boehner and told him about the sun tanning tax," he said at the meeting, according to audio posted online by RightWingWatch. "[Boehner] goes, 'I didn't know it was in there,' and I said, 'Yes, it's a 10 percent tax.' He goes, 'Well, that's not that big of a deal.' I said, 'It's a racist tax.'"
In the recording, the congressman goes on to explain that, when asked if he'd ever visited a tanning booth, an Indian doctor in his office with "very dark skin" responded that he hadn't, as he had no need to do so.
"So therefore it's a racist tax," Yoho explained. "And I thought I might need to get to a sun tanning booth so I can come out and say I've been disenfranchised, because I got taxed because of the color of my skin. As crazy as that sounds, that's what the left does right. By God, if it works for them, it'll work for us."
The tax in question was initially proposed to deter Americans from frequenting tanning beds, which one study found causes roughly 170,000 cases of skin cancer each year.
The claim that such a measure is discriminatory against white Americans is not original to Yoho. While former Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) supported some provisions of the president's health care law, despite voting for its repeal, he has also denounced the "racist" implication of the tax.
"You want to talk about something that's really racist? They have a tanning tax. I'm not tanning," said West, who is African American.
In 2010, conservative radio host Doc Thompson voiced a similar complaint while standing in for Glenn Beck on his Fox News radio show.
"I now too feel the pain of racism. Racism has been dropped at my front door and the front door of all lighter-skinned Americans," Thompson said. "Why would the President of the United States of America -- a man who says he understands racism, a man who has been confronted with racism -- why would he sign such a racist law?"
Earlier this year, the FDA proposed a warning label requirement for all materials promoting tanning beds, and completely barring bed use by customers under 18. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S.
Clarification: Language has been amended to reflect that skin cancer as a whole is the most common type of cancer; melanoma is one variety of skin cancer.
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