Not the Morning in America Reagan Envisioned

Call your member of the House of Representatives now at 202-224-3121 and tell them to STOP THE BIG TOBACCO BAILOUT. VOTE NO ON H.R.4134.

Today, when the sun rises over our glistening eastern seaboard, more people won’t go to work than ever before. Inflation will be double the level of previous years. Gasoline will cost a family of four the same as what they pay for groceries in a week, and Big Tobacco will drive hundreds of small shops out of business, displacing thousands of people from their homes and livelihoods.

This is not the morning in America Ronald Reagan envisioned during his 1984 reelection campaign. These are difficult times. More about that in a moment.

Let’s flash back to 1985 in rural Gallatin, Tennessee. We see a young 34 year old woman who was born, raised, married and reared children near Baltimore, Maryland has just arrived. She left her government house and nursing job in urban Maryland to further her nursing career in rural Tennessee. Eventually, her scientist husband hit it big and now the couple is worth $29 million. Using their personal wealth and a little gerrymandering, this young lady (now 61 years old) retired from nursing and bought herself a seat in Congress (check the Federal Election Commission reports for candidate contributions, it’s true).

Scene: Present day Washington, DC

Ronald Reagan’s legacy still hangs on in corners of our nations capital city, and many members still come to Washington filled with the warm embrace of his vision of reaching the shining city on a hill. Reagan stood for everything that was brilliant, and he condemned the corrupt and evil. Just like when Mr. Smith came to Washington, Ronald Reagan eschewed corrupt politicians because he didn’t think back room deals were right. He refused to take part in using the government to pick winners and losers of industry, and he rejected making Americans “pay to play” in any given commercial sector.

Unfortunately, Ronald Reagan’s vision is lost on a handful of members of Congress. The most recent fallen angel is U.S. Representative Diane Black (R-TN). Her legislation, H.R.4134, is nothing more than an attempt to use the Federal Government to quash Big Tobacco’s competition.

How things got this bad is an ugly story. I won’t scare you with all the details, so here it is in a nutshell: Big Tobacco makes money selling cigarettes. They don’t make money when people choose to roll their own cigarettes. Given the state of our economy and the availability of custom (and tasty) tobacco blends, more people are choosing to roll their own. This makes Big Tobacco angry.

Predictably, Big Tobacco convinced the Obama Administration’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) to try and regulate people’s ability to roll their own cigarettes. They want to classify this “roll your own” activity as ‘manufacturing’ and apply all the relevant regulations and taxes. Thankfully, a Federal judge in Ohio has stayed that enforcement attempt, so Big Tobacco has asked (bought) members of Congress to enact the regulations by passing them into law. No one wants their fingerprints on such a special carve-out for Big Tobacco, so they tried to slip the provision into law under cover of a transportation bill (Montana Senator Max Baucus did this).

The resulting fury at the undercover Big Tobacco provision gave members pause, but not for long. Rep. Black introduced her bill, H.R.4134, rounded up 23 other pro-Big Tobacco members (we call them the Dirty2Dozen), and trotted off for a two-week recess hoping no one would notice. Well, we’ve noticed. We think it’s dirty. And we’re waiting to see how these lawmakers will try to take H.R.4134’s provisions and slip them into law.

The unfortunate impact if Rep. Diane Black (R-Big Tobacco) is successful, is she’ll have raised taxes on working families and small businesses, and created a nice monopoly for the same people who bring you manufactured, dull, pre-packaged smokes.

You can help stop this by calling your member of the House of Representatives, and tell them NO on H.R. 4134. Tell them it’s a tax hike, it’s a Big Tobacco Bailout, and it’s dirty government.

Call the House of Representatives now at 202-224-3121 and ask for your Congressman. Tell them NO on H.R.4134 on Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, snail mail, telegraph, smoke signal… however you like!

Something has gone dramatically wrong in America when the Federal government starts picking winners, and losers at the behest of Big Tobacco. Together, we can stop them. – GR

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