The Big Tobacco Bailout & The Week Behind Closed Doors

Follow the dollar.

It’s Monday, May 14, 2012 and we are in for a week that will include some closed door meetings, some drive-by criticism of our effort, and hopefully some sunshine. More on that in a moment. First, today’s message.

—-> Today’s Message: Tell John Mica and @LawmakerXYZ no new taxes in the Highway bill, especially a #BigTobacco bailout! http://bit.ly/NewTax

—–>Please replace “@LawmakerXYZ” with your local member of Congress or maybe some members from the Conference Committee list here.

CLOSED DOORS: Last Thursday, the news reported that the chiefs of the highway bill negotiation, U.S. Rep John Mica (R-Florida) and U.S. Sen Barbara Boxer (D-California), will meet this week to continue negotiations (put on a thick coat because that’s going to be one FROSTY meeting). Rep Mica, who is in a fight for his political life in a primary race against U.S. Rep Sandy Adams (R-Florida), was quoted in The Hill as saying, “We will have our first one-on-one. Staff has done some good preliminary work and they are moving along, so we will see.”

House Rep. John Mica (R-FL)

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA)

As reported by The Hill, Mica further noted the group of 47 House and Senate members hammering out the final highway bill have broken into “working groups” to follow up on the work their staffs have already begun. “The staff has been doing similar work [but] we actually want members to be engaged in the process.” (Double-thanks to reporter Keith Laing of The Hill newspaper for his story and staying on top of the issue.)

DRIVE BY CRITICISM: Last week I engaged U.S. Senator Dick Durbin in the Twittersphere because he made a random comment to the effect that if Congress didn’t raise taxes on tobacco, Big Tobacco was going to get away with more profits. WRONG SENATOR, YOU’RE ENABLING BIG TOBACCO’S MONOPOLY AND MUTLI-BILLION DOLLAR PROFITS! I was civil in my response, and thank you to those who re-tweeted. We must hold our elected officials accountable, and that includes publicly challenging their statements when they obscure the truth.

A LITTLE SUNSHINE: Though there’s still a lot of time for disaster, it appears the House is not going to get rolled by the Senate in a “take it or leave it” maneuver. Since Rep Mica says they’ve already cracked the glass on changing the two competing bills in an effort to come up with a single agreement, then there’s hope we can convince the negotiators to STRIP OUT the Senate provision that raises taxes on small businesses and UNFAIRLY targets higher taxes and regulations on United States small business firms solely for the benefit of Big Tobacco.

YOUR MISSION: Our task this week? KEEP TALKING! IT’S WORKING!!

Listen, Washington is a BIG town with MANY agendas. To be heard, we have to be the squeaky wheel. We have to be the people in their faces. We’re the neighbor with the big yard sign. We have to make lawmakers face the fact that they are going to run people OUT of business for the benefit of BIG TOBACCO. Until Congress has dropped this cockeyed attempt to squash free and fair competition, we must continue to tell our story. As the very same people who put each of these members in office, we have a responsibility to tell them how to represent us!! Like that bumper sticker on that beat up pickup down the street says, “think globally, act locally.”

Make the pledge to hit Twitter and Facebook twice today – once before 11am and once after 3pm. Bonus points for anyone reaching out again after 9pm! Each time, “talk” to four members on the highway bill conference committee (click here for the list). If you post more than four direct contacts with lawmakers, the Facebook and Twitter algorithms might think you’re a spammer and suspend your account.

Thank you for what you’re doing. Thank you for what you’ve done! I promise, some members of Congress are already hearing us and nodding their heads; we have to continue raising a stink so a majority of Congress will listen!

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