The Emperor Wore What?

Dude, isn’t that a Big Tobacco bailout?

Today’s Message: @LawmakerXYZ What’s dirtier than a #BigTobacco bailout? Nothing. Save #jobs. Stop the sellout. http://bit.ly/NewTax

Welcome to Tuesday, May 29, 2012. You’ll see the threat level has been elevated to PINK because half of Congress is back in session this week. Though the Senate is out and senators are milling among us commoners enjoying the extreme heat, the House of Representatives is back to cause more mischief. That means more meetings among the conferees of the 2012 highway bill.

As we reported last week, faceless staff representing members of the House and Senate have been working through the differences in the House and Senate bills. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) told The Hill newspaper that 80 percent of the issues are already settled. The remaining sticky 20 percent of matters are being discussed behind closed doors. A friend of mine told me this is how the conversation between faceless staff goes:

Senate staffer: “We have a provision in our bill that raises the gas tax by a one-tenth of a penny a gallon.”

House staffer: “On behalf of the House majority and Chairman Mica, we object.”

Senate staffer: “Okay, we’ll take a vote on that later. Next item. We have a provision that crushes small tobacco shops by changing their classification from “retailer” to “manufacturer.”

House staffer: “What? Crush small business by implementing a mysterious and arbitrary reclassification? Why would you do that?”

Senate staffer: “Umm. Nevermind. We’ll come back to that one…”

And it keeps going like that. The problem is, when the issue isn’t decided in the open, our interests are not represented. Behind closed doors, members of Congress rely on their staff for information. Staff is presenting information they’ve gathered from their friends who now work for Big Tobacco…

Hey, you gotta problem with my Big Tobacco bailout?

So maybe you remember the fairy tale about the emperor who was so blinded by his own vanity, he walked through the township wearing nothing but his birthday suit. It wasn’t until a child called out “naked” that the whole village realized a streaker was parading in front of them. That’s exactly what’s happening with the Big Tobacco bailout HR4134. To you, me, and anyone else who looks at it, HR4134 is a screwed up favor specifically designed to benefit Big Tobacco. What worldly purposes is there to reclassify a retailer as a manufacturer simply because they allow people to buy their own tobacco blends and use an in-store device to roll up some smokes?

REAL WORLD: If small tobacco shops are reclassified from “retailers” to “tobacco manufacturing facilities” the real world effect is they’ll be immediately zoned out of business, or taxed and regulated out of business. Bottom line, Congress will drive small shops OUT OF BUSINESS. Oh, Big Tobacco will speak from behind the curtain and say things like “tax equity” or “tax fairness” or “campaign contributions will dry up if you don’t support our bill” but the reality is this is nothing more than a COORDINATED effort by the Big Tobacco companies to CRUSH COMPETITION. Hey Department of Justice, isn’t that illegal?? Hey Superfriends, can’t you fly in and save the day?!

So here we are, and here we go again. We’re calling this Big Tobacco bailout exactly what it is. HR4134 is a NAKED sellout to Big Tobacco. HR4134 is a standalone bill in the House, and its EXACT language is in the Senate version of the highway bill. Our mission is to draw as much attention as possible to this FRAUD, and call on ALL members of Congress to STOP the bailout. Let’s focus our love on ALL our members of Congress, including these friends on the House negotiating committee for the 2012 highway bill:

Republicans

Democrats

As always, please remain civil and share your direct message (@lawmakerxyz) thoughts under the 4, 4, 4 plan. Four in the morning. Four in the afternoon. Four in the evening. And then retweet as MUCH as you like! Have a great day and keep on ringing the bell, we are making a difference!!

– GR

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