Cat Fight

We have voices. We have voices in our local communities and through the world wide web. We have voices on Twitter and Facebook. We have voices on television, radio and newspapers. We are getting our message out that the Big Tobacco bailout is wrong, unfair, and not what government ought to do. Witness what I found written about the big tobacco bailout in a letter to the editors of the Times-Tribune in Scranton, Pennsylvania:

Squeeze play by big tobacco

Editor: I am increasingly convinced nothing in Washington happens for the greater good; it only happens for special interests. Congress constantly talks about helping small business, but behind the scenes they’re hurting us.

In the 2012 highway bill expiring June 30, the U.S. Senate inserted a provision that will put retail locations like mine out of business. Three years ago, I opened my first store in Scranton where people can roll their own custom-blended tobacco cigarettes. Since then, my business has expanded in size and number of employees. I fill a market niche because my customers prefer their own tobacco blends over what’s commercially available.

But because I’m taking away a fraction of market share, Altria, Lorillard, R.J. Reynolds and other “Big Tobacco” interests are urging Congress to “reclassify” my retail stores as “tobacco manufacturing facilities,” subjecting my business to an unbearable regime of taxes and regulations no retail location could ever meet.

I know “Big Tobacco” is behind this from the U.S. Senate’s lobbying disclosure database. In 20 days, Altria, Lorillard and R.J.Reynolds spent more than $700,000 on at least 15 firms to help them lobby Congress for this provision. This doesn’t even include the millions these companies spend each quarter on in-house lobbyists. I opened stores in my native Pennsylvania because the business climate promotes success. Everything I have was built on the backbone of free enterprise, but that’s in jeopardy if this provision becomes law. Unfortunately, as a sponsor of H.R.4134, U.S. Rep. Tom Marino supports this bad provision despite my repeated requests to oppose it. The same is true of Sen. Bob Casey. I’m asking them to strip this legislation from the 2012 highway bill and stop it from moving any further. I hope Congress stops this.


Kudos to Mr. Fadden for speaking up and telling it like it is for people to see! Rep. Marino and Sen. Casey, please take note your people are watching…

Today’s Message: @LawmakerXYZ Strip it and forget it! The #BigTobacco bailout in the highway bill is a #jobs killer!

We have a voice, so let’s use it against Big Tobacco!

Good morning! It’s June 19, 2012 and the House and Senate are talking about the highway bill. Today, a meeting is scheduled between House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Representative John Mica (R-FL). The four are gathering to trade notes and possibly make a decision on whether they can revive the big burrito 2012 transportation bill and move it forward, OR whether they should extend the current bill for a few months. As one of the news articles pointed out this morning, there isn’t a lot of time or opportunity left in this month for huge new pieces of legislation to get through both houses of Congress, and June 30 is when the current transportation authorization expires. It will be the judgement of the four individuals meeting today whether they continue down the path of destroying more than 1,000 small businesses, or letting them live to fight another day. If they move toward the latter option, an extension, then they’ll immediately cat fight about how long that extension is: six weeks or six months.

The Big Tobacco cat fight, coming soon to an arena near you.

When I think about Congress just throwing their hands up and deciding, “Yah, let’s just do a bill and be done with the matter for six years,” I’m troubled. That’s what Sens. Boxer and Reid are pushing. But it’s that kind of thinking that reminds me of the maxim, “Haste makes waste.” Of the hundreds and thousands of pages in the highway bill and the code it references, I can’t imagine lawmakers wouldn’t be more careful about the potential impact of their actions. But, that’s what we’re guarding against today: Hasty actions that would give Big Tobacco their bailout and sell us down the river.

What happens if Big Tobacco wins its provision to reclassify small retail smoke shops as “manufacturers” subject to huge new taxes and regulations? Small business goes out of business. Members of Congress, need we remind you who will suffer from your approving a Big Tobacco bailout??

OUR MISSION: Remind our lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives that we do not agree with leaving a Big Tobacco bailout in the highway bill. We don’t like government picking winners and losers and crushing thousands of small business jobs just as a favor to Big Tobacco.

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