Big Tobacco Thursday

A Rhino

U.S.Rep. Diane Black (R-Tennessee)

Editorial Comment: Do you know what they call Republicans who turn their back on their promise to NOT raise taxes? You got it! They call them a RINO. It stands for “Republican In Name Only.” Unfortunately, members of the U.S. Congress are a crafty bunch and they don’t like to be upfront about what they’re doing, lest they suffer being called a RINO. So a tax increase is often times characterized as “closing a loophole” or “harmonizing product rates” or better still, “aligning with the original intent of blah blah blah.” You know what I say to that? Poppycock. If you’re out to raise taxes, stand up and say it. If you’re doing it on behalf of Big Tobacco, shame on you.

And now, our regularly scheduled programming:

Hello! It’s Thursday, May 17, 2012 and we continue battling the Big Tobacco bailout that’s currently included in the U.S. Senate’s version of the 2012 highway bill. The good news for us is a growing number of U.S. House lawmakers don’t want some of the stuff in the Senate bill, including the unfair, tax-raising, small business crushing, reclassification being pushed by dope dealers like Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana) and Representative Diane Black (R-Tennessee). More on the House effort to rout the Big Tobacco bailout as it develops.

Today’s message: Where is @LawmakerXYZ and Paul Ryan on the #BigTobacco bailout tax hike in the highway bill HR4134? It harms #jobs!

Rep John Mica and others talking about jobs.

Believe it or not, some of the news writers on Capitol Hill have picked up on our battle, and they’re calling it another way for the government to raise money to fill their ever-deepening budget gap. We’d like to call BUNK on this immediately. Here’s why: If Congress passes legislation stating that retail shops where you can custom roll your own smokes are now “reclassified” as “tobacco manufacturing facilities” that does one thing: It shuts them down!

Small Mom & Pop smoke shops will NOT be able to afford the same tax structure as Big Tobacco. Small smoke shops will NOT be able to comply with the same regulatory structure as Big Tobacco’s multibillion dollar facilities. The small smoke shops will be FORCED to STOP letting people roll their own smokes. When that happens, “POOF” and it’s done. No more roll your own and the only game left in town is BIG TOBACCO.

Today, Kathryn A. Wolfe wrote a piece about this issue in Politico (in the premium content section, can’t paste it here). Predictably, one side said the tax hike is about bringing “harmonized” tax rates for tobacco products and that the money would be used for “deficit reduction.” The other side rightly pointed out the ridiculous nature of essentially outlawing any smokes except those you buy from Big Tobacco.

I would ask Ms. Wolfe to reach out to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) folks who conducted a study on this matter and ask them what will happen to roll your own smoke shops if this dirty Big Tobacco bailout provision becomes law. What they’ll tell Ms. Wolfe (if she presses them enough) is their calculations assumed the shops go OUT OF BUSINESS because they simply can’t bear the cost of compliance. So guess what the practical effect of the legislation is? NOBODY benefits EXCEPT Big Tobacco. No deficit reduction. No tax harmony. Nothing except Big Tobacco steps on competition like an elephant stepping on a gnat.

Your Mission: Continue! I want to personally thank all who’ve joined in on Twitter and Facebook and elsewhere to bring pressure on our elected officials. You are making a HUGE noise and fantastic impression! Congressional offices are hearing us, but we must continue until the Big Tobacco bailout is dead, dead, dead! Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) had to shut down his Facebook page two nights ago because we were ALL over it!! Good work friends!

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