Everyone has a piece of the pie. That’s one of the challenges we face in our fight against Big Tobacco. As we bring pressure on Big Tobacco and their supporters in Congress, Big Tobacco’s lobbyists start calling in more favors. Favors cost Big Tobacco political and financial capital, and they don’t like spending it. Just remember this because it’s always true: When you want to know why anyone is behaving the way they are, follow the capital.
Good morning! It’s Wednesday, June 13, 2012 and another beautiful day in middle America. Yesterday, one of our online warriors was talking with another warrior about this whole Big Tobacco bailout and U.S. Representative Diane Black’s legislation to “reclassify” small retail tobacco shops as “tobacco manufacture facilities.” One of the warriors then relayed the story to me and I was astonished at what I heard. I’ll tell you this story but remember it’s third hand, so I apologize if I bumble a couple things, and I’m keeping names out of it at this time.
Earlier this year, February, the owner of a small business had a meeting with Ms. Black in one of her Tennessee offices. After the usual pleasantries, she asked this particular gentleman what she could do to help represent his views in Washington. The constituent had a couple different interests including issues potentially affecting a small retail tobacco store where a person can roll his or her own smokes. He talked about the costs of constantly rising Federal taxes, regulations, and other efforts coming from all sides in Washington trying to squeeze blood from a turnip. Rep. Black was empathetic. In classic Bill Clinton style, she felt his pain. She went on and on about how she was a warrior for small business, she ran her campaign on a platform built on lower taxes, fewer regulations, fighting for smaller government and all that. She would champion the constituent’s cause for small business relief! Great meeting, right?
A few days later, U.S. Rep. Diane Black (R-Tennessee) introduced a bill that would put Mr. Businessman OUT of business.
HALT! MS. BLACK ISSUED THIS NEWS RELEASE JUST A FEW DAYS AGO COMMENTING ON THE MISERABLE MAY JOBS REPORT:
“It’s clear that tax, spend, and regulate has not and will not be the recipe for economic recovery. To keep the American Dream alive, we must repeal Obamacare, enact pro-growth tax reform and provide regulatory relief for job creators,” said Congressman Diane Black.
BUT THEN: This is the summary of Ms. Black’s bill H.R.4134: “Amends the Internal Revenue Code to include within the definition of “manufacturer of tobacco products,” for excise tax purposes, any person who for commercial purposes makes available for consumer use a machine capable of producing tobacco products.”
This particular constituent is a rough and tumble guy and doesn’t take double-crossing lightly. He heard about Ms. Black’s bill, studied up on exactly what it seeks to do, attended a local town hall meeting, and pointedly asked Ms. Black what in the heck she thought she was doing. She was surprised by the question and her answer at this public town hall meeting was no answer at all! She got flustered; she got a little angry at the public challenge; and she didn’t really know what to say except to try and explain that the steaming pile of manure the constituent described wasn’t a manure pie at all, but in fact it was a chocolate tort!
Ms. Black, no matter how you try to explain your Big Tobacco bailout bill, it’s still a Big Tobacco bailout, a smoking pile of manure, and it probably originated in the bowels of a water buffalo. It’s not closing a loophole, it’s a maneuver written by Big Tobacco to put small tobacco retail shop competition out of business. H.R.4134 was examined by the Congressional Budget Office and it also found this legislation does nothing more than force competition to close their doors.
Now, I know you might be reading this around meal time so I’ll spare you any more graphic details, but what happened in the story above is as wrong as rats at an outdoor wedding party. Big Tobacco is behind H.R.4134 and we know this because we checked the public lobbyist disclosures filed with the U.S. House and Senate. In just 20 days, the Big Tobacco companies combined spent more than $3 million dollars telling Congress to approve H.R.4134.
Ask yourself: WHY would well-established Big Tobacco companies Altria, Lorillard, and R.J.Reynolds spend more than $3 million dollars in just 20 days canvassing Capitol Hill to barge into congressional offices on behalf of a freshman congresswoman’s “aw shucks” legislation? Because they want a larger piece of the pie, and they don’t care who they hurt in getting it.
OUR MISSION: To the Facebook! To the Twitter! To the telephone! “Mr. Watson? Come here. I want to see you.” I know U.S. Rep Black has blocked a bunch of us on Facebook, but there are other ways to send her a message. Why not ask her colleagues to pass along our message? As large as Congress is, word travels fast through the halls of the Capitol. In fact, we kicked like a mule yesterday and made a helluva lot of noise. Let’s do it again today folks! Don’t forget: Recruit, recruit, recruit!! If someone tells you they don’t know how to Tweet or FB, mock them by telling them their children do!
TODAY’S MESSAGE: @LawmakerXYZ I’m fighting for #jobs. Join me and STOP the #BigTobacco bailout in the highway bill! http://bit.ly/NewTax
Thank you for what you’re doing, be great online, and I will see you in the trenches!!