TGIF

Thank God it’s Ferris.

Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

Ferris Bueller. The kid took a day off school and they made a movie about it. It’s a pretty funny film, I admit. Skirt the authorities; eat at a fancy restaurant; sing in a parade; and wreck a classic Ferrari… How couldn’t it be fun? But take that same thing and put it on Congress. Lawmaker sleeps in; eats at a fancy restaurant; sings at a karaoke bar; and wrecks 1,000 small businesses… Not fun.

Good morning and happy Friday, June 15, 2012! Today is the last zodiac day of Taurus and tomorrow is the first day of Gemini, the summer solstice is just around the corner, and apparently, Justin Beiber is STILL popular among the female pre-teens. Big Tobacco is still breathing down our necks in Congress and we have to stay vigilant against their attacks.

TODAY’S MESSAGE: Speaker Boehner and @LawmakerXYZ You have the power to STOP the #BigTobacco bailout! Save #jobs. http://bit.ly/NewTax

Friday Q & A: I looked back at our posts on Facebook and Twitter over the last few weeks and noticed a few recurring questions. I thought today would be good to recap some of those and post them for congressional consumption and comments. If you’re a Federal lawmaker, please feel free to send us any questions you might have and we’ll ship out answers asap.

QUESTION: What is the Big Tobacco bailout?

ANSWER: The Big Tobacco bailout currently takes two forms. It is a provision in the Senate-approved highway bill, and it is a piece of legislation introduced by U.S. House Representative Diane Black (R-Tennessee). Both of these pieces of legislation seek to “reclassify” small retail tobacco stores as “manufacturing facilities” if they provide services allowing customers to roll their own cigarettes. Both of these provisions are dangerous, wrong-headed, and supported by the Big Tobacco companies.

QUESTION: What is the status of the highway bill and what does that mean for the bailout?

ANSWER: Highway bill talks have stalled; members are playing the blame game; and an extension of the current program is likely. The duration of that extension is unknown but lawmakers have talked about six months to two years. Will the bailout be part of that extension? We certainly hope not, but you can bet Big Tobacco will try to put it in.

QUESTION: When will we be safe from Big Tobacco?

ANSWER: Never. Big Tobacco is an industry and they’re here to stay. Big Tobacco is competing for market share, and competition in itself is okay. What’s NOT okay is Big Tobacco trying to crush roll-your-own competition by using Congress to kill free enterprise. Look, I smoke custom smokes because Big Tobacco doesn’t offer a product I like. When I roll my own smokes, I get a better product! If Big Tobacco wants to tailor their smokes to my liking, fine. But using taxes and regulation to kill competition, crush my ability to roll my own smoke, and try to force me into buying their product is anti-competitive and anti-free enterprise. Big Tobacco had better change their mindset.

QUESTION: Why do you always put a picture of a water buffalo next to Rep. Diane Black, the person who introduced H.R.4134 at the behest of Big Tobacco’s lobbyists?

ANSWER: C’mon. Be nice.

U.S. Rep Diane Black telling a herd of people she’s against big government, but secretly counting the campaign cash she’ll get after sponsoring a Big Tobacco bailout.

An innocent water buffalo sporting the latest jewelry accessories available at Marshall Fields.

QUESTION: Why do all of the co-sponsors of H.R.4134 have Big Tobacco cash campaign contributions in their hands?

ANSWER: (sigh) You’re really asking this?

QUESTION: Are the anomalies surrounding H.R.4134 and the Big Tobacco bailout enough to trigger a House or Senate Ethics Committee investigation?

ANSWER: Several Big Tobacco companies spent millions lobbying for H.R.4134 in a period of 20 days. I don’t know about you, but I can’t coordinate who’s buying the next can of coffee at work more than a day out. Whether the money, coordination, lobbying, and intensity of the Big Tobacco bailout campaign will trigger an Ethics investigation is unclear. Someone has to first file a complaint with the committees and ask them to investigate. What I do know is some Washington, DC watchdog groups have been alerted to this situation and they have responded that they’re “researching the matter” and that it is definitely on their radar. That’s good news for us because the more sunlight shined on how laws are made, the less likely Congress is going to do something as dirty as the bailout.

QUESTION: How will we ultimately be successful in defeating the Big Tobacco bailout?

ANSWER: We will defeat the bailout by exposing it to the public light. The more people hear about this crazy attempt by Big Tobacco to use Congress to solidify a monopoly with unnecessary taxes and regulations on small business, the more progress we make. Sunlight kills bad things. It kills vampires, some types of bacteria, and all kinds of Big Tobacco scams. Let the sun shine in my friends, and we will win.

QUESTION: Another lawmaker who has taken more than $24,000 in cash from Big Tobacco and supports the Big Tobacco bailout is U.S. Rep Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee). Does she have a problem breaking too much wind, or is she just really concerned about the public’s perception of her age?

ANSWER: Pictures say a thousand words. By the way, she’s originally from Mississippi and her real name is Marsha Wedgeworth. Isn’t it funny both Black and Blackburn are originally from other states and don’t have any real ties to the Tennesseans they supposedly represent?

U.S. Rep Marsha Wedgeworth Blackburn: “I eat small businesses and love Big Tobacco campaign cash.”

QUESTION: Why do you mostly pick on Republicans supporting the Big Tobacco bailout instead of Democrats?

ANSWER: Republicans tell us they want to reduce taxes and regulations on small business, but contrary to their words and stated principles, some are supporting the Big Tobacco bailout. Plus, House Republicans have the majority and hence the power to strip the Big Tobacco bailout from the 2012 highway bill. That’s why we’re focused on them. We focus on Democrats, too, especially those sympathetic to NOT letting Big Tobacco grow bigger with this kind of bailout. The whole thing’s difficult because, again, most members of Congress have taken a few thousand dollars in cash from Big Tobacco’s campaign treasure chest.

QUESTION: Will you have a good Father’s Day weekend?

ANSWER: YES! And you will, too because we’re making friends and exposing enemies in our fight against the Big Tobacco bailout. Keep it up on Twitter, Facebook, online news story comment areas, bulletin boards, message in a bottle… As I’ve said before, our strength is our persistence. Frankly, Congress wants us to shut up. The more we talk, the more chance we have to pull back the curtain and expose the rotten eggs. So keep talking and keep pulling back the curtain. It’s working!

– GR

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