You Asked For It — Part II

Greetings Fellow Traveler, it’s Friday, May 25, 2012! I appreciate your stopping by to check in on the latest edition of Tax Tracker. If you’re just visiting for the first time, today is your lucky day because we’re going to recap EVERYTHING that’s been going on during the past few weeks. If you’re a frequent friend, thank you for saying hi and doing all that you’re doing!

Today’s Message: @LawmakerXYZ Real people stand to lose real jobs because of the #BigTobacco bailout HR4134! Video

RECAP: I started publishing the Tax Tracker blog for one reason: Someone threatened to encroach upon my freedom to roll my own smokes, and they’re doing it in a VERY underhanded way.

You see, I like to roll my own smokes. When I roll my own, I choose my own blend of tobacco that tastes a little like that spicy pear dessert mom used to make, and I stuff it in a paper that has a nice, slow, even burn. Every week or so, I stop by my local smoke shop, belly up to the bar, mix my tobacco, choose my paper, and roll my own smokes. On the way out of the store, I say thanks to the owner, wink at his girlfriend, and I go on my merry way.

But Big Tobacco doesn’t like that. For every smoke I roll, Big Tobacco isn’t making a sale. No sale, no profit. No profit, no Big Tobacco private jet trip to the Bahamas this weekend. Big Tobacco only makes more than A BILLION DOLLARS PROFIT EVERY THREE MONTHS. How DARE we not contribute to their shiny silk purse!

Big Tobacco holding their silk purse

In response to my rebellion against the Marlboro Man, Joe Camel, and the sick smell of Salem, Big Tobacco devised a plan to shut down small tobacco shops by using the machines of government. They’re using Congress to pass into law a simple “reclassification” provision that would magically change small tobacco shops where you can roll your own smokes from “retailers” into “tobacco manufacturing facilities.”

WHAT?!! Holy Harry Potter, how can they do that?!

My kingdom for a wand.

Well, that’s a good question. It’s also where things get a little sticky. Here’s how the story goes:

A person working for U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana) communicated extensively with Big Tobacco lobbyists and the product of those conversations was a push to slip a provision “reclassifying” Big Tobacco’s roll your own competition into a bill that was nearly sure to pass Congress and get signed into law this year. That legislative vehicle turned out to be the 2012 highway bill. Everyone wants good roads and bridges, right? So, in a middle-of-the-night maneuver, Baucus’s staff member went to his boss and said, “Hey, Big Tobacco wants this amendment. They’ve lined up support from some convenience stores and some of your Democratic and Republican colleagues as cover. It looks like we’re doing good by raising tax revenue, so let’s do this. Big Tobacco will be VERY happy.” Max said, “Okay.” The rest of the coverup is written in the Congressional Record for all to see.

Senator Max the Baucus (D-Montana)

Rep. Diane “Sellout” Black (R-Tennessee)

COINCIDENTALLY (or not), at that exact same time, Big Tobacco lobbyists went to U.S. Representative Diane Black (R-Tennessee). The same thing happened. A Big Tobacco lobbyist (with CLOSE relations to a staff member in Black’s office) asked Rep. Black to introduce their bill in the House of Representatives. “Oh, we’ll give you a LONG list of supporters including convenience stores and wholesale distributors, and NOT ONE WORD about Big Tobacco’s support for this bill will ever appear ANYWHERE.” So what did Rep. Diane Black do? This tax-cuttin’, aw shucks, I’m-just-a-Tennessean-who-was-born-raised-schooled-and-retired-in-Baltimore-Maryland said “Okay.” Her bill number is H.R.4134.

Okay, as if that wasn’t bad enough. Things now get REALLY weird.

People who lobby Congress have to fill out disclosure forms. They have to say HOW MUCH they get paid by their clients, WHO exactly went to the Hill to lobby, and they have to disclose the ISSUES they’re lobbying. This is a quarterly requirement and it’s supposed to keep people honest, on the up and up, etc.

According to public records (available by searching this database) Altria disclosed they spent roughly $3 million dollars lobbying Congress to approve H.R.4134 between March 5, 2012 and March 31, 2012. That’s 20 weekdays. So simple math says Altria spent $150,000 A DAY pushing Congress to approve H.R.4134.

WOW! So between March 5 and March 30, Altria (maker of Marlboro cigarettes) spent $3 million on DOZENS of lobbyists to push a bill that was only introduced March 5?

How odd they did that. The bill number H.R.4134 didn’t even EXIST until after March 5. Yet, Big Tobacco made the decision to spend $3 million in 20 days lobbying for H.R.4134? Look up R.J.Reynolds, one of Altria’s competitors. THEY DID THE SAME THING. How curious…


Ahh well. It’s Friday and I can’t wait for the long weekend.

OUR MISSION: Our ongoing mission is to EXPOSE the Big Tobacco bailout that’s now in the Senate’s version of the 2012 highway bill, and the EXACT same language is in the bill introduced by Rep. Diane Black HR4134. This is an unfair, unconstitutional abuse of government power to crush competition through excessive and unnecessary taxation and regulation. Stand with us and talk to your local members of Congress through Twitter, Facebook, email, phone, stunt plane, however you like! We’re making noise because those who would corrupt government for their own personal gain must NOT succeed. Join our campaign to expose the Big Tobacco bailout! Recruit your friends, too because once they’re done coming for us, they’ll come after them next.

– GR

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