Living in Denial

Today: Focus your energies on the Senate negotiators. They’re listed at the bottom of this post. And remember, they can block us from Facebook, unsubscribe us from their Twitter feeds, hang up the phone, burn our letters and ignore the writing on the wall, but we’re still here. We are spreading the word high and low, far and wide. Congress, please don’t sell out small businesses and their employees!

If this weren’t a favor to the Big Tobacco companies, then WHY did Big Tobacco spend more than $3 million dollars in 20 days hiring more than 60 lobbyists to lobby Congress SPECIFICALLY on this provision??!!

Good morning and hello Tuesday, June 26, 2012! If this is your first time here, we are discussing the Big Tobacco bailout that’s been stuffed into the highway bill. It essentially uses the power of the Federal government to prohibit small retail tobacco shops from providing “roll your own smokes” services, handing Big Tobacco a complete monopoly on cigarette sales (they only have 99.9% monopoly now). Now, if the Big Tobacco bailout stays in the highway bill and becomes law, more than 1,000 small businesses will be forced to close. How did we get here? Well, here’s what happened:

If this weren’t a favor to the Big Tobacco companies, then WHY did Big Tobacco spend more than $3 million dollars in 20 days hiring more than 60 lobbyists to lobby Congress SPECIFICALLY on this provision??!!

On March 8, 2012, U.S. Senator Max Baucus (pictured above) introduced amendment S.Amdt 1825 to the highway bill. If you look at the title and the first few dozen pages of language, it looks like a bill to reauthorize “the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 and to provide full funding for the Payments in Lieu of Taxes program for 1 year, and for other purposes.”

OTHER PURPOSES: The VERY LAST provision in Max’s maxi-amendment was this (pardon the wet ink):

SEC. 40425. ROLL-YOUR-OWN CIGARETTE MACHINES.

(a) In General.–Subsection (d) of section 5702 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by adding at the end the following new flush sentence:

“Such term shall include any person who for commercial purposes makes available for consumer use (including such consumer’s personal consumption or use under paragraph (1)) a machine capable of making cigarettes, cigars, or other tobacco products. A person making such a machine available for consumer use shall be deemed the person making the removal as defined by subsection (j) with respect to any tobacco products manufactured by such machine.”

WHAT THE HECK do cigarettes have to do with highways? Oh that’s right, NOTHING. Nice move, Max.

So if you look at the tax code, you’ll find the provision above “reclassifies” retail shops as “manufacturers of tobacco products” and subjects them to all sorts of new taxes and regulations. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has taken a look at the situation and has determined that no small business will be able to survive the reclassification and will be forced to close, or else the jack-booted thugs will break down their doors and haul everyone to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

If this weren’t a favor to the Big Tobacco companies, then WHY did Big Tobacco spend $3 million in 20 days hiring 60 lobbyists to push specifically for this provision??!!

Esteemed members of the U.S. Congress: PLEASE STRIP THE BAUCUS BIG TOBACCO BAILOUT FROM THE HIGHWAY BILL!

The talking points in support of the Big Tobacco bailout are this: “We’re closing a tax loophole.”

Our response, “Bulls**t.”

If this weren’t a favor to the Big Tobacco companies, then WHY did Big Tobacco spend more than $3 million dollars in 20 days hiring more than 60 lobbyists to lobby Congress SPECIFICALLY on this provision??!!

Outside of this blog, the Baucus Big Tobacco bailout has never been exposed to direct sunlight. Not one public hearing. Not one minute of testimony from CBO, nothing from small business owners, nor people like me who enjoy rolling their own custom blended smokes. No public clamoring, no hue and cry for Congress to act. No Dateline NBC piece with dramatic music, pretty lighting, and a guy running from reporters. Nope, nothing. Just some lucky lobbyists who were able to buy a congressional Finance Committee staffer a couple dinners, grease the skids with a few campaign contributions, and gather up some convenience store and warehouse support (people who make money off Big Tobacco sales) as thin and transparent cover for Big Tobacco’s power play.

TODAY’S MESSAGE: @LawmakerXYZ Don’t use the highway bill for a #BigTobacco bailout! #Smallbiz jobs at stake! http://bit.ly/NewTax

Congress: If you let Big Tobacco have this, more than 1,000 small businesses will close, throwing 10,000 people out of work. Big Tobacco already has 99.9% market share! But they’re greedy; they want more; and they’re using YOU, Congress, to get their way. STOP the Big Tobacco bailout! You have the power and you have the ability to make things right. Public policy should not be created this way. This is nothing but a dirty, lowdown, Big Tobacco sponsored favor to the bad guys.

-GR

TODAY’S FAVORITE PEOPLE ARE IN THE SENATE!

Democrats

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