Members of Congress and loyal Capitol Hill staff members: We have directed you to this site to inform you about the Big Tobacco bailout, and to introduce you to the people you will hurt if the Big Tobacco bailout isn’t stopped. View this video, please:
Welcome to FRIDAY, June 8, 2012! I’m going to quickly run through a bunch of things today, so please bear with me.
CONGRESSIONAL UPDATE: The back-and-forth continues between House and Senate. Now more folks are predicting an extension of current authorization instead of passing the big burrito. Keeping a careful eye on this, but it’s difficult when the lead negotiators (Boxer/Mica) are trying to do everything private-like and behind closed doors. Our Capitol Hill moles tell us the new Senate offer proffered this week looks a lot like the bill the Senate passed with a couple tweaks. Fake effort. Boo. Stay tuned.
TWITTER NEWS: Calling out a popular tweet from yesterday coming from Congressman Justin Amash (R-Michigan). He’s active on the social media networks and took time to respond to fellow warrior Julie, agreeing to review the Big Tobacco bailout. Here’s Congressman Amash’s Tweet:
repjustinamash: .@JulieRauzan I’m taking a look at what you posted.
We anxiously await Congressman Amash’s response (hint, hint), and we are hopeful he will stick to his ideals of libertarianism and transparency. If you’ve not visited his Facebook page, please do and like it because he posts a LOT of information about what he does in Congress.
FRIDAY BASICS ABOUT THE BIG TOBACCO BAILOUT (this is for newbies):
WHAT IS IT: The Big Tobacco bailout is Federal legislation attempting to “reclassify” small tobacco shops where you can roll your own smokes. The “reclassification” would instantly change the tobacco shop’s designation from “retailer” to “manufacturer” and subject these small businesses to heaps of new regulations and higher taxes. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the reclassification would put these small businesses OUT of business immediately.
WHERE IS IT: The Big Tobacco bailout exists in two forms. One form is a provision currently included in the U.S. Senate’s version of the 2012 highway bill. Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana) slipped it in there in the middle of the night. The other form is a bill (HR4134) introduced by Representative Diane Black (R-Tennessee). Both of these forms do exactly the same thing and the lawmakers backing them won’t talk about them publicly.
WHY IS IT: When I roll my own smoke, the Big Tobacco companies don’t make money off me. That’s why Big Tobacco companies like Altria and R.J.Reynolds spent more than THREE MILLION DOLLARS in just 20 days this year lobbying Congress to approve HR4134. Senator Baucus and Representative Black will tell you they’re doing what they’re doing to close a loophole, but the truth is they’re doing it for Big Tobacco.
WHO IS IT: Who wants the Big Tobacco bailout? Big Tobacco does. To verify this, go here: http://soprweb.senate.gov/index.cfm?event=selectfields, check the box “specific lobbying issue” and in the next screen, type in 4134 and hit enter. A bunch of records of who is lobbying Congress on HR4134 will come up. Sort by date and take a look at the army of lobbyists calling on Congress during the first quarter of 2012.
WHAT’S DIRTY ABOUT IT: I started blogging about the Big Tobacco bailout because I didn’t like the fact that the government wanted to take away my freedom to roll my own smokes. When I learned HOW the government was going to do it, using a backdoor, anti-competitive “reclassification” to suffocate small business with taxes and regulations, I got even more involved. Then, when I learned the Big Tobacco companies were bankrolling the bailout using millions of dollars and dozens of Capitol Hill lobbyists, I got downright angry. So the Big Tobacco companies heap THOUSANDS of dollars in campaign contributions on members of Congress, then heap MILLIONS on lobbyists, and use coordinated tactics to pressure lawmakers into acting on a measure that will kill competition… you tell ME what’s dirty about it.
ANOTHER FACT: This Big Tobacco bailout, according to the CBO, will close more than 1,000 small businesses across the United States. Multiply that figure by the number of employees at each establishment. Then add in the cascading economic impact of that many people losing their jobs. When Congress talks about a “jobs” plan, I didn’t think they wanted to eliminate them.
ONE MORE JAB: Using the Federal government to crush competition is disgraceful. When it’s Big Tobacco pulling the strings of Congress, that’s even worse. Adding insult to injury is when members of Congress go on television and talk about reducing regulation and freeing small business from the pressures of government, and then they turn around and support HR4134, well that’s just plain backstabbing and treacherous. Right, Rep. Marsha Blackburn? Right, Rep. Diane Black?
Today’s Message: @LawmakerXYZ Stop it. Strip it. Get rid of it. The #BigTobacco bailout in the highway bill is a #jobs killer! http://bit.ly/NewTax
(Please replace “@LawmakerXYZ” with your local member of Congress’s Twitter handle. You can find it on their website or by searching Twitter.)
FINALLY: I’m fighting the Big Tobacco bailout because I want to keep my freedom and I want to help people keep their jobs. I’m also fighting it because this kind of governing isn’t representative of the people. Every day, government at some level is working to take more. You name it, they want to take it. Money, property, freedoms. Am I overstating things? Think about Mayor Bloomberg and his effort to reduce soft drink cup sizes. Talk about ridiculous. I don’t need government to make decisions for me. I can do that myself, thank you very much. Stand with me and draw the line. Don’t let them cross into any more freedoms. This is about fairness, the little guy, and standing up for what’s right. Charge on, warrior. Take our fight back to the Twitters and Facebooks and I will see you online.