Big Tobacco’s Stone Wall

This is a stone wall. Congress is familiar with this structure.

Welcome to Thursday, May 31, 2012. We find ourselves today at the base of a stone wall. Pretty, isn’t it? I imagine stone walls have been around for nearly as long as there has been the concept of boundaries. Good fences make good neighbors, right? In American politics, the stone wall imagery was invoked frequently during President Nixon’s Watergate scandal for the blunt, non-answer answers White House officials gave to cover up the debacle as long as possible.

CONGRESSIONAL UPDATE: Supposedly, House and Senate staff members continue privately walking through their two different transportation bills, identifying areas of agreement and areas of disagreement. Remember that the Senate bill contains the Big Tobacco bailout (HR4134), AND that the Big Tobacco bailout provision is NOT in the House bill. That means the lawmakers have to decide whether or not to include the bailout in the final bill that must ultimately be presented to all members of Congress. If the negotiators are forced to open the curtains, let the sunshine in, and take a public vote on the Big Tobacco bailout, that’s good for us because only the slimiest members of Congress would DARE do such a crooked favor for Big Tobacco while the cameras are on them.

HOWEVER, just yesterday, a member of the 2012 highway bill conference committee accused U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) of “stonewalling” during what are supposed to be open negotiations. This unidentified member of the House Republican caucus says Sen. Boxer is not negotiating in good faith, that she’s not been “straight up.” and, “She’s been overly optimistic.” He said, “If they’re not willing to negotiate… …I don’t see how we can move forward.”

That doesn’t sound good. In fact, it sounds as if Senator Boxer might have a trick up her sleeve to try and roll right over the top of House Republicans. To date, there has been exactly ONE public meeting on the 2012 highway bill negotiations and reportedly WEEKS of PRIVATE meetings among staff. Remember the one public meeting? That was where everyone said, “Roads good. Waste bad.” and not one word about the Big Tobacco bailout? And, since we don’t know exactly what’s been said in the PRIVATE negotiations since then, we need less stonewalling and more public light shed on this issue.

Today’s Message: @LawmakerXYZ We need highways, not a #BigTobacco bailout. STOP the #jobs killer HR4134 http://bit.ly/NewTax

Speaking of things not happening in the “public” arena… This Big Tobacco bailout provision has lived in the dark for its ENTIRE life, much like a vampire.

Things that never see sunlight: Vampires and dirty legislation.

DARKNESS: Not one committee hearing.

MIDNIGHT: Not one minute of floor debate.

BLACKOUT: Not one news conference where news reporters could ask questions.

STONEWALL: Not one minute of testimony from small businesses impacted.

SECRET: Not one second of explanation as to WHY small business “retailers” should be reclassified as big time “manufacturers.”

SCANDAL: And yet, Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana) slipped this legislation into the highway bill.

Around here, we call that dirty pool.

Someone has polluted the water with a Big Tobacco bailout.

OUR MISSION: Let’s keep up the pressure! Every day that we expose the Big Tobacco bailout is another chance more members of Congress are going to have to explain it. Whatever you do, don’t relent! That only gives members of Congress comfort that we won’t notice what they’re up to ENSURE every day you are talking (Tweeting and Facebooking) with your local members of Congress. Remember, local voices carry the most weight!

Today’s focus: In addition to touching leading members of the House of Representatives and members of the news media, let’s encourage the following members to STAY STRONG and REJECT the Big Tobacco bailout that’s hidden in the highway bill. They’re all on the negotiating committee, they ran for office on platforms that say they’ll protect small business, and at one time or another, they’ve stated publicly they are against bailouts for big corporations (twitter handle then Facebook page):

Example: @LawmakerX Stay STRONG and STOP HR4134, the #BigTobacco bailout hidden in the highway bill. http://bit.ly/NewTax

Thank you for your hard work and keep it up!

-GR

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