Tag Archives: government

Mr. President, Defend the Constitution

Exactly WHO is responsible for teaching phone manners at the White House? When a person calls the White House to express his or her opinion about something, there’s a pretty good chance that “something” is very important to them. Hey, we all have pressures in our lives. It just so happens we are pressuring the President to preserve freedom!

Good morning and welcome to Tuesday, July 3, 2012! Just so you know, the White House comment line is usually staffed by college interns. They’re SUPPOSED to be kind, courteous and polite. They receive calls and they’re supposed to record the topic you’re calling about and the region from where the call came. The one thing EVERY intern is told is, “These are Americans from every walk of life, every state in the union, every political party, and they are concerned enough about something to call the most powerful office in the world. Be nice, because we work for them.”

Phone Message: I am asking President Obama to issue a signing statement with HR4348 making Section 100122 void because it is unconstitutional and it punishes me and my business. Thank you.

Twitter Message: @WhiteHouse POTUS, SEC.100122 of HR4348 is unconstitutional and punishes me! VOID it in your signing statement! http://bit.ly/NewTax

Facebook Message: Mr. President, you have regularly used your signing statement authority to void, append, nullify and add interpretation to provisions of legislation forced upon you by Congress. Section 100122 of the highway bill headed to your desk is a clear violation of Article I Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution. As mentioned in this open letter to you yesterday, Congress certainly has the authority to regulate commerce, but it does not have the right to punish one group in order to arbitrarily grant monopolies to certain industries. Making the practices of small business competition illegal by virtue of setting the bar for entrance into the marketplace unnecessarily high is anti-competitive and a gross abuse of power. That is exactly what Congress engaged in by inserting language into the highway bill to arbitrarily and immediately reclassify small retail tobacco shops as “manufacturers” if they provide services allowing customers to roll their own tobacco cigarettes. This reclassification, according to the Congressional Budget Office, will force the immediate closure of more than 1,000 small businesses across the United States. THEREFORE, we respectfully request you use your signing statement powers to interpret Section 100122 as unconstitutional and unenforceable under your administration. Will you save my job and my freedom, Mr. President?

We know you have a lot on your plate, Mr. President. But which freedoms are too small to defend? Who will defend us against unconstitutional attacks launched by the corrupt in Congress? How will our children view a government which acts to protect special interests at the expense of the people?

Warriors, this has been quite the journey. We are nearing the finish line. Tomorrow is Independence Day. A day to celebrate our freedom from tyranny. Let’s keep our spirits high, our voices raised, and our fingers typing because while they might not agree with us, they swore an oath to defend the Constitution. Tell them. Keep telling them. Never let them stop hearing us.

Be great. See you online!

– GR


  • @whitehouse
  • @WHLive
  • @blog44
  • @BarackObama
  • @AskObama
  • @DavidAxelrod
  • @PressSec
  • @StefCutter
  • @JesseCLee44
  • @macon44
  • @joncarson44
  • @pfeiffer44
  • @VP
  • @ks44
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  • @DavidAgnew44
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  • @StevenVDC
  • @opengov





Call to leave a comment: 202-456-1111

Tell the President: “When you sign the highway bill H.R. 4348, please issue a signing statement to make Section 100122 null and void. It’s nothing more than a favor to the Big Tobacco companies, it will close my business and people will lose their jobs immediately! I’m a retailer, not a manufacturer. This isn’t good government. Please tell Congress you can’t in good conscience interpret Section 100122 as a fair way to conduct government.”



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Tuesday Evening Action Alert

We’re hearing word from our people on Capitol Hill this evening that the Baucus Big Tobacco bailout provision appears to be in the final highway bill. Baucus took control of the finance/taxes section and he clamped down on keeping his favor to Big Tobacco in the final version. This is not good news and we need to act NOW to raise holy hell with members. Most members of the Transportation bill conference committee have NOT seen the bill and it must be approved by the whole committee before it can be sent to the full House of Reps for a vote.
Light up all these members at the bottom of this post. They MUST know to act to strip the Baucus provision from the bill. If they don’t act, it will be EXTREMELY difficult to defeat the bill once it gets to the floor.
TONIGHT’S MESSAGE: @LawmakerXYZ The job-killing Baucus #BigTobacco bailout is STILL in the highway bill. STRIP it 2NITE! http://bit.ly/NewTax
Please Call: 202-224-3121 and ask for each member’s office from the list below. Tell them you want to see the Baucus “roll your own” tobacco provision stricken from the highway bill.

Transportation Committee Republicans / Leadership Members

Do it, friends. Hit them hard.


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Make or Break Week

If you’re a member of Congress, or work for a member of Congress, we are asking you to learn about the provision we call the “Big Tobacco bailout.” It’s a provision U.S. Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana) slipped into the highway bill without anyone knowing, and we want it stripped from the bill because:

  • The Congressional Budget Office says it will result in the closure of >1,000 small businesses;
  • Reclassifying “retailers” as “manufacturers” for no other reason than to shut down retail tobacco locations is bad government;
  • Giving Big Tobacco companies a monopoly on cigarette sales vs. the 99% market they have currently is anti-competitive; and
  • It takes away our freedom to roll our own smokes.
Here is the actual provision Sen. Baucus sneaked in under piles of pages of an “education” amendment:


(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.”



We don’t know, so we wait. While the political world watches in breathless anticipation of a United States Supreme Court ruling on whether the President’s crowning achievement health care law is constitutional, we’re waiting to hear what congressional negotiators have done with the highway bill.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the Big Tobacco bailout provision eventually ends up in arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court as a breach of the U.S. Constitution.

Good morning and welcome to Monday, June 25, 2012. Congressional staffers worked like hungry vermin over the weekend on the highway bill and we still haven’t heard if they’re finished, whether they stripped the Big Tobacco bailout from the bill, whether they’ll shoot for the big burrito this week, or whether they’ll punt through another extension.

Today’s Message: @LawmakerXYZ MAKE NO DEAL until the Baucus #BigTobacco bailout is stripped from the highway bill! http://bit.ly/NewTax

First, let me commend those of you who dedicated a great deal of time this weekend to getting our message out. We spray-painted our words all over Twitter and Facebook constantly! Publicly, lawmakers like to tell you they haven’t noticed our messages. Privately, they see us all the time and they have no clue what to do with us! Some members have taken to blocking our messages from their Facebook pages, for instance U.S. Rep. Diane Black. She had us blocked from both her official Facebook page and her campaign Facebook page. Why? I suppose it’s because we’ve been anxious to tell the truth about her sellout to Big Tobacco to all of her constituents.

U.S. Rep. Diane Black has shut down free speech on her Facebook pages. I wonder if she burns books, too.

This is how water buffalo cool down in the hot summer. Is she wearing Coco Chanel?

Second, if you don’t believe in the power of your efforts, let me remind you we’ve used social media to find out where a whole bunch of lawmakers stand on HR4134. The most recent member to publicly oppose the Big Tobacco bailout was U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan), and he communicated his opposition via Twitter! Thank you, Congressman and we sincerely hope you will communicate your concerns to your colleagues sitting on the highway bill negotiating committee, Rep. Dave Camp and Rep Fred Upton. They have the power to strip the Big Tobacco bailout provision (similar to HR4134) from the highway bill and save thousands of jobs!

OUR MISSION: It looks like it’s make or break week for us in Congress. The highway bill is the most immediate threat. If lawmakers approve the Big Tobacco bailout in the highway bill and it gets signed into law, we have another helluva fight to undertake at a whole new level. SO in order to avoid that, let’s make some noise for the people who can fix things. Here are the House Republicans on the negotiating committee. They need to hear our opposition to the bailout provision. Tell them what this means to you. It’s personal and tell them so. Stay civil; encourage them to protect free enterprise and preserve jobs. Most importantly, tell them to strip the Big Tobacco bailout from the highway bill.

Be good. Be online.

– GR

Transportation Committee Republicans / Leadership Members

Senate Republican conferees (and their Twitter handles):

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Why Congress Must Boot the Big Tobacco Bailout



(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.”.


Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana) and President Obama. Sen. Baucus wants to ensure the Big Tobacco companies that have given him THOUSANDS of dollars have a complete monopoly.

If you’re a member of Congress, or work for a member of Congress, the above provision is the “Big Tobacco bailout” and we want it stripped from the highway bill because:

  • The Congressional Budget Office says it will result in the closure of >1,000 small businesses;
  • Reclassifying “retailers” as “manufacturers” for no other reason than to shut down retail tobacco locations is bad government;
  • Giving Big Tobacco companies a monopoly on cigarette sales vs. the 99% market they have currently is anti-competitive; and
  • It takes away our freedom to roll our own smokes.

Update, update, who has the update?

Right now, there are people gathered around a table in a room somewhere in the complex of the U.S. Capitol, and they’re talking to each other about the highway bill. Specifically, they’re talking about the two versions of the highway bill, the House bill and the Senate bill. They’ve been working for weeks comparing the two bills and thinking privately about what absolutely must stay, and what can go. In the Senate version is a provision U.S. Senator Max Baucus attached in a middle-of-the-night maneuver that seeks to reclassify retail tobacco shops as “tobacco manufacturers” and tax and regulate the bejeezus out of them, forcing them to close and thus eliminating Big Tobacco’s minuscule competition. No doubt when that provision is discussed, there will be an intense fight by Big Tobacco lobbyists to keep it in.

Good morning, it’s Sunday, June 24, 2012. Talks continue today among the staff of U.S. House and Senate negotiators working out a transportation authorization bill (the highway bill) and people are keeping mum about what’s going to be in the final package until they’re ready to release it to the public. When we hear, we will share with you. Until we know for certain, we must keep up the noise, the pressure, the level of engagement required to get in front of the decision-makers.

According to the Associated Press:

“…the two sides were also close to an agreement to overhaul federal transportation programs, according to House and Senate aides from both parties. Negotiations were expected to continue through the weekend, with votes expected next week on either a major transportation bill or an extension of current programs, said the aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the talks.”

SO… WHILE members of Congress are deciding the fate of our freedom to roll our own smokes, let’s help decide the fate of whether our local members of Congress will have our support when they run for re-election. Every member of the House of Representatives is up for re-election this year and the power we hold over our elected representatives is our power to vote. Further, we can influence others and how they might vote. If a politician senses he is losing votes, especially from the very base of people who should be supporting him, then he’ll likely change his behavior.

TODAY’S MESSAGE: @LawmakerXYZ MAKE NO DEAL unless the Baucus #BigTobacco bailout in the highway bill is stripped! http://bit.ly/NewTax

Be loud, be alert, bring your “A” game and let’s be seen and heard online! 

– GR

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Add U.S. Rep. Justin Amash

Great news, warriors! We’ve added U.S. Representative Justin Amash to the list of lawmakers opposed to H.R.4134, the Big Tobacco bailout!

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash is on our side!
He opposes HR4134, the Big Tobacco bailout.

Congressman Amash sent the following last night from the Twittersphere:

“@GeorgeRenome I’ve now had a chance to review #HR4134. I am opposed to it. Best of luck.”

This is great news! We sincerely appreciate Rep. Amash’s responding to our request to review HR4134 and his decision to oppose the Big Tobacco bailout. Thank you, Congressman Amash and keep fighting the good fight on Capitol Hill. You are a true champion of small business and free enterprise!

Good morning and welcome to the first Saturday of official summer, June 23, 2012. John Adams said our republic is a “government of laws, not of men.” What he meant is under the construction of our government, tyrants have no opportunity to exercise ultimate authority. That’s why we have three branches of government; executive, legislative, and judicial. If the legislative branch does something bad, the executive branch can veto it. If the executive branch oversteps its authority, the judicial branch can knock it down. If the judicial branch says the Constitution doesn’t allow something, the legislative branch can amend the Constitution, but only with the consent of the states. So even though there’s a lot of opportunity for mischief within and even across our branches of government, eventually things get sorted out. That John Adams was a pretty smart gent, right?

2nd President of the United States, John Adams

Those of you new to the blog, here is the Big Tobacco bailout provision. We’re fighting it tooth and nail. I’ll explain more in a minute.



(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.”.


Legislating is complicated business, especially when the United States has enough Federal code, regulations and laws to sink the Titanic a couple times over, but once upon a time I looked up subsection (d) of section 5702 of the Internal Revenue Code and what this Baucus provision does is add to the definition of “manufacturer of tobacco products” any retail shop where you can roll your own smokes.

So is a retail outlet a manufacturer? Of course not. So why is Baucus pursuing this provision? Is it because manufacturers pay higher taxes than retailers and Congress is bloodthirsty for more tax revenue? Possibly. But when we looked at the Congressional Budget Office examination of the impact this provision will have on small retail tobacco shops, they found the shops will have to shut down because they can’t afford the new tax and regulation regime. So WHAT is Senator Baucus’s motivation?

Every member of Congress has taken some amount of Big Tobacco cash in the form of campaign contributions, whether directly from the Big Tobacco companies or through third-party political committees funded in part by Big Tobacco. It’s a fact.

I can’t speak to Senator Baucus’s personal motivations, but it is a fact the senator has taken at least $25,000 in campaign contributions directly from Altria, Lorillard, and R.J. Reynolds, the Big Tobacco companies. It’s also a fact that these Big Tobacco companies spent more than $3 million in just 20 days between March 5 and March 31, 2012 lobbying Congress to pass a Big Tobacco bailout provision. Hmm… When I roll my own smokes, Big Tobacco doesn’t make any money. Big Tobacco wants to put small roll your own retailers out of business. A member of Congress inserts a special provision to eliminate Big Tobacco’s competition. And Sen. Max Baucus has taken at least $25k from Big Tobacco. HMM….

OUR MISSION: This weekend, staff members for Congress are working away trying to put the finishing touches on the highway bill. Unfortunately, members of Congress don’t write bills anymore, they let their staffs do it and often times the staff make the final decisions of what goes into a bill and what’s stripped. Unless members of Congress specifically direct their staff to do something, mischief is abound. We must tell lawmakers to strip the Big Tobacco bailout from the highway bill. It’s nonsensical, anti-competitive, and will crush more than 1,000 small businesses across the U.S. at a time when our economy can least afford it.

Today’s Message: @LawmakerXYZ It’s up to you. Save #smallbiz and strip the Baucus #BigTobacco bailout from the highway bill! http://bit.ly/NewTax

Take it to the Twitter and the Facebook. Take it to the online community and spread it wherever you see fit. Take our message to the mountaintops and roll an avalanche down the valleys below. We can make a difference if we’re loud enough and expose enough of this rotten Big Tobacco bailout. Go on the attack, my friends. This is the weekend that matters. Make your hard work over these last few weeks count! See you online.

– GR

PRIMARY TARGETS – Talk to them and the people who follow them. These people can save, or sink us this weekend.

Transportation Committee Republicans / Leadership Members

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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! http://bit.ly/NewTax

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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Draft Campaign Script

It’s a tight deal. You have an objective, a goal and you see your path to getting there. You have some friends or coworkers who share your vision and so you all band together to support each other’s desire to achieve your goal. So you start down the path knowing there are consequences for straying from your objective. All of a sudden, along comes huge Big Tobacco gust of wind and…

Today’s Message: Stay on creating #jobs, not killing them with a #BigTobacco bailout in the highway bill http://bit.ly/NewTax

Good Morning! It’s Monday, June 18, 2012 and Sir Paul McCartney turns 70 today. The U.S. House of Representatives is back in session and both the House and the Senate are scheduled to stay in session until the July 4 break. In that time period, they have a lot of legislation on their agenda including some expiring student loan interest rate provisions, the farm bill, Food and Drug Administration reform, and the notorious, Big-Tobacco infiltrated, small-business, job-killing-if-they-approve-the-Senate-version, highway bill.

If you think Congress can get to agreement on ALL of those issues before July 4, God bless your optimism. From what I’ve seen, these jokers have a hard time approving bathroom breaks. Each member of each party has their own custom objective in their sights, but they also perceive a great deal to lose if they stray from the path that got them this far. Some members of Congress are walking the line on reducing taxes, regulations and government spending; others are walking the line of creating new government programs to help folks who might be in crisis; still other folks are calling for an investigation and then dismantling of the Federal Reserve. They all have their goals, and all along their paths little gusts of wind come along in the form of legislation.

That’s why it is SO aggravating when I hear members of Congress get on the television and TALK about the dire need to reduce Federal taxes and regulations, but then go around and support a Big Tobacco bailout, H.R.4134 and the version that’s been stuffed into the Senate’s version of the 2012 highway bill. If we’re going to keep our form of representative government, there is no more treacherous breach of trust than telling voters you’re going to fight for small business, but then you take a dive when Big Tobacco throws the first punch.

Can you imagine a campaign ad where U.S. Rep. Diane Black (R-Tennessee) stands up and tells people what she’s really about and what she does in Congress?

I can. Here’s a sample script for Rep. Diane Black’s consideration. This is only a draft script; we anxiously await Ms. Black’s edits:


Time: 60 SECONDS

Title: “Black for Congress: Elect Me and I will…”

Diane Black: “I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, the birthplace of bureaucracy and self-preserving government jobs. After 34 years, I moved to Tennessee to follow my wealthy inventor husband. In my spare time I made a goal of getting back to the nation’s capital city and, working with tons of campaign cash from the Big Tobacco companies and other special interests, I did. [voice continues after banjo riff]

“Once in Washington, I started telling Tennesseans I was working hard for them. I made speeches, sent out news releases, held town halls, and even met one-on-one with voters to promise them I will fight for lower taxes and fewer regulations. But on March 5 of this year, I introduced a bill that will heap a lot of new taxes and regulations on small retail tobacco shops. [voice continues after trombones start loud marching-style melody]

“My legislation will shut down more than 1,000 U.S. small businesses and force thousands more out of work. The Big Tobacco companies like my legislation so much they spent more than THREE MILLION dollars in 20 days lobbying my colleagues for it’s approval. If you re-elect me, I won’t talk about this bill or why I introduced it, but I will keep working for those interests that contribute to my campaign, no matter how many jobs are lost or how many promises I have to make and break. I’m Diane Black and I approved this message.” [voice ends; music trails off]

Photo: At Taste of the Country in Springfield this morning. Come down and visit our booth!

Can you imagine? I’ll bet you a shiny new penny Congresswoman Black will have at least a couple of edits to the script. We understand. First of all, what’s the bumper sticker line? Every campaign needs a bumper sticker slogan… You know, something like, “Vote Black, because she’ll sell out” or “Black is back, with Big Tobacco” or maybe “Diane Black for Congress: I’m Listening 2 Big Tobacco”

Oddly enough, Ms. Black is a member of the U.S. House Republican Policy Committee. This is a committee formed back in 1949 and the current charter is to, “work diligently on common sense solutions that speak for the American people remove barriers to economic growth, balance the budget, reduce the size and scope of government, implement patient-centered health care reforms, and keep the country safe.” We think it’s only a matter of time before Ms. Black is excoriated at the Policy Committee’s meetings for introducing the tax hikes and regulation increases contained in H.R.4134. If she’s developing these kind of ideas for the rest of the Republican members of the House, it doesn’t seem she’s going to keep her membership card to this particular club.

OUR MISSION: After we receive Ms. Black’s edits to her campaign commercial, we’ll be very busy in production. Until then, let’s get on the Twitter and Facebook and send some messages to the folks who can make a difference. Here are the Twitter handles of some of the Republican Policy Committee members. Then should hear our message about the highway bill and the Big Tobacco bailout. They have to understand we are watching their tightrope walk, and we’re here to support them as long as they stick to their words. What member of Congress wants to conduct bad public policy or use the power of the government to pick winners or losers. Members need our help to stay on course and stay out of the water.

  • Rick Berg (ND) @RepRickBerg
  • Judy Biggert (IL) @JudyBiggert
  • Gus Bilirakis (FL) @RepGusBilirakis
  • Rob Bishop (UT) @RepRobBishop
  • Diane Black (TN) @RepDianeBlack
  • Paul Broun (GA) @RepPaulBrounMD
  • John Fleming (LA) @RepFleming
  • Cory Gardner (CO) @RepCoryGardener
  • Chris Gibson (NY) @RepChrisGibson
  • Phil Gingrey (GA) @RepPhilGingrey
  • Tom Graves (GA) @RepTomGraves
  • Morgan Griffith (VA) @RepMGriffith
  • Alan Nunnelee (MS) @RepAlanNunnelee
  • Mike Pompeo (KS) @MikePompeo
  • Tom Price (GA) @RepTomPrice
  • Tom Reed (NY) @RepTomReed
  • Jim Renacci (OH) @RepJimRenacci
  • Mike Rogers (AL) @RepMikeRogersAL

Be good! See you online.


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Okay, I’ll write the damn news story FOR you

It’s amazing what gathers the news media’s attention.
Unconventional sex? Yes. Big Tobacco bailout? No.

I’ve been amazed at how little the news media has paid attention to the abnormalities surrounding the Big Tobacco bailout. Maybe they’re afraid if they write something about Big Tobacco they’ll be challenged by herds of lawyers or dragged off to the Guantanamo Detention Facility never to be heard from again. Or maybe they believe the other side who’s saying, “Oh it’s just a technicality. Nothing to see here!” OR MAYBE they’re on the take, too? Who knows, because when you dive into the nexus between the news media, members of Congress, congressional staff and the people working directly for Big Tobacco, you will find incestuous relationships.

Today’s Message: @LawmakerXYZ Strip it and forget it! The #BigTobacco bailout in the highway bill hurts #smallbiz! http://bit.ly/NewTax

George Stephanopoulos is ABC’s Washington news personality or “journalist” and worked as a senior advisor for Bill Clinton in the White House.

Good morning! It’s Thursday, June 14, 2012. The kids have been out of school for more than a week and they’re driving me crazy! But, not any more crazy than the news media’s lack of reporting on the Big Tobacco bailout. So I’ve decided I’ll do the work FOR the major news organizations. Attention newsroom employees, editorial assistants, and assignment folks: PLEASE feel free to use this in your publication FREE of charge and you only need to attribute this original work to cub reporter George Renome.

Cub Reporter

Headline: Big Tobacco Buys a Bailout

Subhead: Big Tobacco companies caught spending millions to crush small business competition

Body: Hidden in the highway bill approved by the U.S. Senate is a provision that has nothing to do with highways. In fact, it has nothing to do with transportation at all. Its only target is making certain the Big Tobacco companies keep a handle on more profits.

Dubbed the “Big Tobacco bailout” by some, the provision was inserted in a middle of the night maneuver by U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana). Introduced to the Senate as “Senate Amendment 1825” the Baucus language is 18 pages of mostly program reauthorizations and special little tax code revisions. The amendment description itself says, “To reauthorize for 1 year 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.” One of the “other purposes” tucked in as the very last bit of the 18 pages of legislative language was this:

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.”

Senators approved the Baucus amendment by a vote of 82 yeas and 16 nays. When asked if they were aware there was a tobacco provision in the bill, not a single Republican senator has reportedly answered yes. Similarly, not one lawmaker was aware the provision has the real potential to force the closure of more than 1,000 small businesses.

Senator Baucus’s office did not return calls for comment on this story.

The provision remains in the final Senate-approved transportation bill. That bill is currently stalled in negotiations among members of the House and Senate highway bill conference committee.

Oddly enough, a similar provision was introduced in the House of Representatives just three days earlier by U.S. Representative Diane Black (R-Tennessee). Black, a 34-year native of Baltimore, Maryland, is renowned for quietly introducing and shepherding similar anti small business legislation as a state lawmaker in Tennessee.

Black’s legislation, H.R.4134, has drawn a great deal of interest from Big Tobacco companies Altria, R.J.Reynolds, and Lorillard, as well as many Federal lawmakers who have taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from those companies. According to public records filed with the U.S. House and Senate disclosing lobbying activity, the Big Tobacco companies spent more than $3 million dollars in support of H.R.4134 in the period between March 5 (the day Black’s bill was introduced) and March 31, the last day of the first reporting quarter.

Ms. Black’s effort to gather cosponsors has been intense. The freshman lawmaker who ran on a “Tea Party” platform has so far gathered 74 cosponsors for her legislation that will heap new taxes and regulations on small retail outlets. According to sources not wishing to be named for fear they might lose their job but with direct knowledge of Black’s activities, Black’s legislative operation is inexperienced and incapable of the effort that has supported her legislation. Instead, the lobbyists hired by the Big Tobacco companies have done the lion’s share of the work.

One anonymous source with ties to Black’s office noted, “They handed them the bill, they introduced it, and then they sat back and watched the thing grow.”

According to publicly available documents, Big Tobacco companies spent more than $3 million dollars and hired more than 60 lobbyists to canvas the Hill in support of H.R. 4134 just in the month of March. Second quarter lobbyist disclosures will not be available until July or August.

If Ms. Black’s legislation is approved by Congress, it would be the first such effort where so few companies have exerted so much influence in such a short period of time. Indeed, not a single hearing has been held either on H.R.4134 or the topic in general. In fact, Ms. Black herself has not posted a single word about her legislation on her official or campaign websites, on her Facebook page, or made any public comments about the matter. Ms. Black’s office has also blocked an undisclosed number of Facebook users critical of her legislation from posting on her official page.

Ms. Black’s office did not return requests for comment on this story. Responding to a question via Twitter, public watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) said, “Thanks for the mention. I had sent along your post to our research dept. for a deeper look. It’s definitely on our radar.”

The anti small business tobacco provision is also on the radar of U.S. Representative Steve LaTourette. The Ohio congressman sent a letter to all House members alerting them to the fact of the provision’s existence and the damage it will do to the economy. LaTourette wrote:

“Included in the Senate Transportation Reauthorization is a provision that would classify retail establishments that offer roll-your-own tobacco machines as large scale manufacturers of tobacco.  With this classification comes higher taxes which will impose a crushing burden on these establishments. This provision is in opposition to the spirit of this legislation which is to create jobs and to bolster the economy, not to impose further regulation.”

LaTourette further noted:

“It is imperative this provision not be included in the final Highway bill as over one thousand small businesses and their customers across the nation will suffer harmful effects.”

Whether LaTourette, CREW, the House Ethics Committee, or others put roadblocks between Ms. Black’s H.R.4134 and final passage is unclear, though time might be the ultimate victor. Despite her efforts and the efforts of Big Tobacco, the legislative calendar is not working in Ms. Black’s favor. As the November elections draw nearer, Congress is less likely to move anything so controversial, especially at a time when both parties, Republicans and Democrats, are trying to champion the “jobs and economy” message as their own.

– GR, cub reporter

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Everyone Has a Piece

Everyone has a piece of the pie, and no one wants to give up their slice.

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.

Who are these people, and why are they on my ranch?

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.


“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.”

U.S. Rep. Diane Black (R-Tennessee) introduced a bill, HR4134, but won’t talk about it online, in person, on her website, or in town hall meetings. If she’s hiding her effort, maybe she’ll drop it?

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!

H.R.4134 is a steaming pile of manure.

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.

Why is everybody picking on me?

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!!

– GR

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Anatomy of a Big Tobacco Sellout

U.S. Rep. Diane Black sold out to Big Tobacco. She says one thing, but does another to help crush small business.

Today’s Message: @LawmakerXYZ Tell Congress to STOP HR4134 & the #BigTobacco bailout in the highway bill! http://bit.ly/NewTax

As I tinkered around the house this weekend, I got to thinking about how difficult it is for people to change their behavior. After all, that’s what this blog and our efforts are about. We seek to change the behavior of members of Congress who will otherwise support a Big Tobacco bailout and crush small businesses through anti-competititve taxes and regulation. People have all kinds of reasons for not changing their behavior. Sometimes, they misinterpret change as a sign of weakness. Certainly, members of Congress don’t want to be seen as weak, wrong, confused or desperate. I bet, if given the chance to change their behavior on the Big Tobacco bailout without having to admit they were wrong, we’d see half to three-quarters of the sponsors of H.R.4134 drop that bill faster than a cold beer turns warm in the middle of August.

Good morning! It’s Monday, June 11, 2012 and we are taking a look today at one member of Congress’s sellout to the Big Tobacco companies. I know that sounds a little harsh, but there’s no other way to describe it. Read on and see if you agree.

U.S. Representative Diane Black: Born January 16, 1951 in Baltimore, Maryland. Thirty-four years later she moved out of Maryland and moved in to Tennessee where she continued her career as nurse-turned-bureaucrat and served in the state legislature for a few years before eyeing an open seat in the U.S. Congress. Ms. Black was elected in 2010, moved back to the Baltimore area, and started service in the U.S. House of Representatives on January 3, 2011.

Ms. Black was born in Baltimore, Maryland and lived in the shadow of the nation’s capital city for 34 years. Elected to Congress, she’s now happily living back in Washington, DC.

What can we tell about Ms. Black and how she serves her Tennessee constituents? Well, all we really have is her WORDS and her ACTIONS. So, let’s look at her website.

EXHIBIT A: On her official, congressional website Ms. Black has written the words:

“America’s success does not stem from Washington programs, but from free enterprise and our entrepreneurial spirit. The real way to grow the economy is to get government out of the way, and let the real job creators, American small businesses, create jobs. The federal government needs to support entrepreneurs by eliminating burdensome regulations and discriminatory taxes that are holding businesses back.” – U.S. Rep. Diane Black.

Well, that’s interesting. Pretty much a red, white and blue flag of poetic praise for small business, right? Curious, though, that there’s no mention of the Big Tobacco bailout H.R.4134 she introduced on behalf of the largest cigarette-making companies. That whole “let’s crush the small businesses where you can roll your own smokes” seems counter to the above paragraph. Maybe it’s an oversight?
EXHIBIT B: More words from Ms. Black’s website talks about her views on Federal legislation:
“One of the most important aspects of Congress is developing, making, and monitoring laws. New laws are created every week. As a Member of Congress, I am actively involved in sponsoring and drafting legislation about issues that are important to you.” – U.S. Rep. Diane Black.

Another interesting statement. We can overlook the ignorant inaccuracy of “new laws are created every week” (they’re not), but we can’t overlook that part about “drafting legislation about issues that are important to you.” Since when did it become important to the people of Robertson and Sumner counties that the U.S. government crush small businesses in order to give Big Tobacco companies more profit?

EXHIBIT C: This comes directly from her bill, her legislation H.R.4134 which will reclassify small tobacco shops from “retailer” to “manufacturer” in order to subject them to impossibly onerous taxes and regulations.

SUMMARY AS INTRODUCED (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.”

What?!! HOW is amending U.S. Tax Code supposed to HELP small businesses?!

Even this water buffalo knows to hang his head low over HR4134, the Big Tobacco bailout sponsored by Rep. Diane Black.

Coming full circle to what we said about “changing behavior” being hard for some people. Ms. Black was born in Baltimore, Maryland and lived in an area populated by more government bureaucrats per square mile than any other place in the nation for 34 YEARS. She knows government like the back of her hand. She has bureaucracy running through her veins. And even though she TALKS about getting “government out of the way” of the REAL job creators, small business, she’s first in line with ACTION introducing MORE TAXES AND MORE REGULATIONS on SMALL BUSINESS. That’s what her bill, H.R.4134 is. And the ONLY BENEFACTOR from this legislation is the Big Tobacco companies. I know this because the Congressional Budget Office said so. If Ms. Black successfully shuts down small tobacco shops where you can blend and roll your own smokes, Big Tobacco thinks it will pick up all those sales. Never mind Big Tobacco already has 99% market share. They want more.

Another clear indicator of Ms. Black’s sellout to Big Tobacco: Money. Big Tobacco has A LOT OF MONEY invested in members of Congress.

EXHIBIT D: Altria (maker of Marlboro cigarettes) gave Ms. Black a few thousand dollars for her campaign. R.J.Reynolds (another cigarette maker) gave her a few thousand campaign dollars, too. IN FACT, both Altria and Reynolds gave THOUSANDS of dollars in cash to Ms. Black’s campaign within mere DAYS of her introducing H.R. 4134. Coincidence?

A further indicator of Ms. Black’s sellout to Big Tobacco: More money.

EXHIBIT E: Big Tobacco spent MILLIONS OF DOLLARS lobbying for H.R.4134 this year. Remember, Ms. Black’s bill wasn’t even introduced until March 5, 2012. But between March 5 and March 31, 2012 the public records show Big Tobacco spent more than $3 million dollars lobbying for H.R.4134! That’s UNHEARD OF on Capitol Hill, unless there is some sort of coordinated effort by the Big Tobacco companies and Ms. Black’s office. It just doesn’t happen that way (on the up-and-up, anyway). We’ve alerted Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) about this anomaly and asked them to look into it.

Last indication of Ms. Black’s sellout: H.R.4134 is a BIG effort by Ms. Black. It’s SO BIG, she has already gathered 74 cosponsors for her bill. AND ALL OF THEM have taken Big Tobacco money in one form or another. Most have taken the money directly from Big Tobacco, but some have taken it through a third-party political action committee. That basically means the money was “washed” of tobacco before it was contributed. Sneaky, right?

EXHIBIT F: Silence. Even though this is a BIG effort by Rep. Diane Black, there is not ONE WORD about it on her website. Check it out for yourself. Go to her website by clicking here, and in the “search” box, enter “4134” or “tobacco” or “roll your own.” Nothing related to her bill comes up! As I’ve said before, members of Congress issue a press release when a unicorn breaks wind, so WHY wouldn’t Rep. Diane Black talk about her PREMIER effort to shut down small businesses? Is she HIDING something?

Well, Ms. Black, you can’t hide a Big Tobacco bailout, and you can’t hide your selling out to Big Tobacco, either.

So there you have it, the anatomy of a Big Tobacco sellout. It’s not pretty, is it?

Ms. Black talks the talk, but doesn’t walk the walk.

Our Mission: Inform, educate, infiltrate, communicate and decimate. We are making a difference because we have people ALL ACROSS our great nation taking part in this effort and persistently making noise. U.S. House members are in their hometowns this week, talking with community groups, touring companies, making hay on the local television and radio. So talk to them! Talk with your local member. Ask them to REJECT the Big Tobacco bailout. Tell them to strip it from the highway bill AND THEN ask them to oppose H.R.4134. It’s a dirty, no-good, big tobacco bailout and it’s NOT good government.

Bravo Tango Whiskey: What do you think? Too harsh? Let me know and I’ll see you ONLINE!


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