Tag Archives: Taxes

This is it

This is it. Today we find out. Did the President hear us? Does the President stand with us? Do we retain our freedoms? Or did Big Tobacco get to the White House, too?

Good morning and hello Friday, July 6, 2012. Today, President Barack Obama continues his campaign bus tour in Ohio and Pennsylvania. There are reports that after he’s done this afternoon, he’ll amble back to the White House and sign the highway bill (HR4348) into law. In that highway bill is the poisonous, barbaric and corrupt attack on free enterprise, Section 100122.

Today’s Message: IMPORTANT Use signing statement to VOID SEC.100122 of HR4348. #BigTobacco is stealing our jobs! http://bit.ly/NewTax

Mr. President, we are the faceless fighting for our jobs. We are fighting for our freedom to roll our own smokes. We are American entrepreneurs and enterprising individuals fighting for our niche in the marketplace, to provide a service where no one else has succeeded. We are moms and dads, veterans and retired couples, people who’ve been laid off in a bad economy, and we’ve invested everything pursuing the American Dream.

President Obama, we call on you to do the right thing. When you see our signs today in Ohio and Pennsylvania “We Are Retailers, NOT Manufacturers,” know that we are talking directly to you. We require your action. This is the pressure moment. This is it. Do the right thing.

President Barack Obama and advisors: Please exercise your power to interpret SECTION 100122 of H.R.4348 as unconstitutional and an unbearable burden on a particular group of small businesses across the United States, and therefore you will instruct your Administration to avoid the unintended consequences of implementing this portion of the law, and work with Congress to find redress focused on a real solution to the perceived underlying issue.

SECTION 100122 of H.R.4348 is unconstitutional because it singles out one group of individuals for punishment. It arbitrarily reclassifies small retail tobacco shops as tobacco product “manufacturers” and by doing so it subjects them to an unbearable number of new taxes and regulations. This isn’t the closure of a perceived tax loophole; it’s the complete destruction of a legal business model that happened to be in competition with the biggest, multi-billion dollar corporations in the world. Our U.S. Constitution won’t stand for this. Article I, Section 9 specifically prohibits using the power of the Federal government to arbitrarily crush people or groups. But we need someone to raise their hand. We need someone to speak up. We must have a President willing to tell Congress, “I see what you did there…”

OUR MISSION: Hit it harder than you’ve ever hit it. Leave N-O-T-H-I-N-G on the field! Tear it up. Tweet. Facebook. Online forms. Do it all.

Warriors, at the end of this battle, no matter the outcome, we’ve learned and we’ve seen. We’ve learned who will stand with us next to the Constitution and we’ve seen what the other side is willing to do to buy a monopoly. Bloody as we are, we can gather ourselves out of the dirt and gravel, stand up, and say, THIS is our fight for freedom. We will continue.

***TARGETS***

TWITTER:

  • @whitehouse
  • @WHLive
  • @blog44
  • @BarackObama
  • @AskObama
  • @DavidAxelrod
  • @PressSec
  • @StefCutter
  • @JesseCLee44
  • @macon44
  • @joncarson44
  • @pfeiffer44
  • @VP
  • @ks44
  • @vj44
  • @Brundage44
  • @DavidAgnew44
  • @ChrisLu44
  • @StevenVDC
  • @opengov
FACEBOOK:

http://www.facebook.com/WhiteHouse

http://www.facebook.com/barackobama

PHONES:

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.”

ONLINE COMMENT FORM: 

http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments

Go. Be. Heard.

– GR

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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

TWITTER TARGETS:

  • @whitehouse
  • @WHLive
  • @blog44
  • @BarackObama
  • @AskObama
  • @DavidAxelrod
  • @PressSec
  • @StefCutter
  • @JesseCLee44
  • @macon44
  • @joncarson44
  • @pfeiffer44
  • @VP
  • @ks44
  • @vj44
  • @Brundage44
  • @DavidAgnew44
  • @ChrisLu44
  • @StevenVDC
  • @opengov
FACEBOOK:

http://www.facebook.com/WhiteHouse

 

http://www.facebook.com/barackobama

PHONE CAMPAIGN:

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.”

ONLINE FORM: 

http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments

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Mr. President, You Can Save Freedom

Section 100122 of the 2012 highway bill is unconstitutional. It picks winners and losers. It’s an arbitrary abuse of the Federal government’s power to tax and regulate commerce. We want this provision made NULL and VOID.

We have one chance. We are asking the President of the United States to defend us from Big Tobacco’s assault.

GOOD MORNING! It’s Sunday, July 1, 2012. July, already?! Yes. We are focused on the slim but REAL chance we can speak to the White House about the unfair and horribly fraudulent Big Tobacco bailout in the highway bill. Section 100122 of the highway bill is an arbitrary and immediate reclassification of small retail tobacco shops. It reclassifies these shops as “manufacturers” and sends them immediately to the unemployment line because there’s basically NO WAY they can qualify for manufacturer status. The Congressional Budget Office has already found that the effect of this provision is NOT to collect tax dollars from small shops; it is a provision that will CLOSE these small shops and FORCE them to close.

This was a provision written, bought, and paid for by the Big Tobacco companies. It’s an overreach of the power vested in Congress. It’s a fraud on free enterprise and we want it made NULL and VOID. President Obama has the power to help us. He can issue a signing statement when he signs the highway bill that says something like:

“Regarding Section 100122, I have concluded it is an inappropriate use of Federal powers to ‘reclassify’ retail establishments as manufacturers in such an immediate and arbitrary manner. I understand the authors of this provision seek to close a perceived tax code loophole, but this remedy is far beyond what is required to address this issue and creates the real and immediate potential for severe unintended economic consequences. I will instruct my Administration to work with the Congress in remedying this situation as expeditiously as possible.”

Mr. President, people across the United States will lose their jobs next week because of Congress and Big Tobacco. Please act to protect jobs.

I got involved in this fight because I like to smoke my own custom blend. The Big Tobacco companies produce a product I don’t like, so I roll my own. Every week, I head down to the local tobacco shop, pull out my favorite blend (spicy pear), and roll my own smokes. Now, Congress and the Big Tobacco companies have colluded to foreclose on my freedom to roll my own. I don’t understand. How is it that something that’s been around since the Egyptians first figured out how to roll smokes, is now being outlawed by the United States Government? Please, Mr. President. Please help us fight this unfair assault on freedom, and Big Tobacco’s attempt to solidify their monopoly.

Today’s Message: I’m fighting for my #job! Make Sec.100122 of the highway bill NULL and VOID. It’s unconstitutional! http://bit.ly/NewTax

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Are you one of the masses not yet on Facebook or unwilling to Twitter? You can still make HUGE and valuable contributions by using traditional methods to spread our message! Call them. Email them. Use this link for their contact information forms:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/write-or-call

Call to leave a comment about the highway bill: 202-456-1111

Tell the President: “When you sign the highway bill, 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.”

http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments

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SOCIAL MEDIA: We are growing our list of warriors every minute. Fight for what’s right. Tweet these people. Tell them your job depends on the President’s action NOW.

  • @whitehouse
  • @WHLive
  • @blog44
  • @BarackObama
  • @AskObama
  • @MichelleObama
  • @PressSec
  • @JesseCLee44
  • @macon44
  • @joncarson44
  • @pfeiffer44
  • @VP
  • @ks44
  • @vj44
  • @Brundage44
  • @DavidAgnew44
  • @ChrisLu44

Fight well, with civility, and with your personal story. Post it on Facebook too!

http://www.facebook.com/WhiteHouse

http://www.facebook.com/barackobama

Go online. Fight. Recruit. Repeat. We’re focused on #winning.
– GR
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Something Died Today

A piece of free enterprise died today.

Well, they did it. Today, both houses of Congress passed the highway bill containing the poison pill for people who like to roll their own smokes. Effective Saturday night at midnight, this piece of the American Dream is foreclosed upon. Thank you Big Tobacco, for helping open our eyes to the ways of Washington, the ways of corrupt government, and what it takes to buy a monopoly.

To those who’ve faithfully followed this issue and done so much great work to fight this Big Tobacco favor, I encourage you to keep fighting. Keep hope alive, and think about running for public office! You’ve seen first hand how people get screwed over by the Federal government. Make a difference and get involved in local, state, federal politics and make a difference!

As I have said to so many of you, we are on the right side of this matter. Every freedom is worth defending. We will encounter roadblocks, but with strength and persistence, we can overcome them. This is a significant setback and will cause hardship for many. But believe in and keep looking for a solution.

I will send along any updates I receive, and if you hear something good just comment here or email me: g.renome5 (AT) gmail.com

See you online.

– GR

 

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Wednesday Noon Update

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) holding a news conference today telling reporters (in code) the highway bill is done, all that’s left to do is twist arms until all the GOP get on board.

HIGHWAY BILL UPDATE: U.S. House Speaker John Boehner just held a news conference on Capitol Hill to give an update on the highway bill. He basically said the highway bill isn’t finished yet, but they’re close, and they’re working to tie the student loan interest rate issue into it.

TRANSLATION: The bill is finished and leadership is working to round up support on the House GOP side. According to CQ-Energy reporters (people who live and breathe this stuff and KNOW the important staff members in the negotiating room) OUT of the bill is Keystone XL. Also OUT of the bill is the Coal Ash stuff. Probably still IN the bill is the RYO provision.

WHAT NOW: The vulnerable people are the House Republicans sitting on the negotiating committee. The less time they’ve been in Washington, the more empathetic they are to our cause. Concentrate on the list of lawmakers on the blog this morning http://bit.ly/NewTax because IF THEY WANT TO, they can say NO to signing the bill unless the RYO provision is stripped.

SPECIAL FOCUS: Make sure you’re talking to Lankford, Ribble, Southerland, Herrera-Beutler, and Camp.

Keep going strong. Don’t let the wet-behind-the-ears intern answering the phone give you any grief, comfort, or false advice. We can win, but we have to keep pushing.

-GR

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You’re Not Listening

Hey Congress: You’re not listening. Or maybe you’re just choosing not to hear me, and him, and her, and them… all of them. Well, Congress. If you hear only one thing, hear this…

Today’s Message: @LawmakerXYZ The Baucus #BigTobacco bailout is a FRAUD on US free enterprise. Remove it from the highway bill http://bit.ly/NewTax

We are at DEFCON 1.

Good morning on Wednesday, June 26, 2012. It’s day THREE of make or break week and the danger is still imminent. Thank you for GREAT participation last night. We raised our voices and shattered some glass using Facebook and Twitter to go nuclear on members of Congress who are sitting on their thumbs, chattering their teeth and nervously hiding in the corner, afraid to confront the Big Tobacco bailout. We sounded the alarm because we are in condition critical. U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana) believes he has won with his favor to Big Tobacco intact. We must spur House Republican negotiators to STRIP the Baucus provision before they agree to the overall bill.

Hey Congress, there is NO reason to be afraid of Big Tobacco! Hit the bully in the nose, HURRY!

CONGRESSIONAL STAFF: PLEASE REMOVE THE FOLLOWING PROVISION FROM THE HIGHWAY BILL. Here is the provision inserted into the Senate’s version of the highway bill through S.Amdt1825 on March 8, 2012 (Senate roll call vote 29). There were dozens of pages and hundreds of lines in the amendment, but this was the very last piece:

===============================================

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.”

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That’s it. That’s the language that is a fraud on free enterprise, a lie on paper in black and white, and something apparently so radioactive even the most conservative, freedom-loving members of Congress won’t touch with a ten-foot intern.

GUESS WHO SUPPORTS THE BIG TOBACCO BAILOUT AND LOST THEIR RE-ELECTION BID?

U.S. Rep John Sullivan (R-Oklahoma) lost his primary race last night in part because he supported the same-old-same-old Washington BS, including the Big Tobacco bailout.

CONGRESSPEOPLE, HERE ARE YOUR TALKING POINTS: Big Tobacco spent millions this year alone to put this provision in the bill. We want this provision out. Why?

  • Only the Big Tobacco companies will benefit under the Baucus provision in the U.S. 2012 highway bill.
  • The Big Tobacco companies spent more than $3 million in 20 days hiring 60 lobbyists urging inclusion of this provision.
  • The Baucus provision will “reclassify” 1,000 small retail tobacco shops as “tobacco manufacturers” crushing them with huge new taxes and regulations.
  • The Congressional Budget Office has already determined under the Baucus provision, these “reclassified” businesses will be forced to close.
  • A retail shop is NOT a “manufacturer” and must not be drowned with the same taxes and regulations as one.

OUR MISSION: This Baucus bailout stinks. It’s a dirty power grab by the Big Tobacco companies and the members of Congress who’ve been paid off. It must be stopped. Target the folks below on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail and phone calls. Dial the Capitol Hill operator at 202-224-3121 and ask for one of these members. There’s also TOLL FREE numbers you can call to reach the Capitol Hill switchboard. Try a Google search for “call your member of congress toll free”.

-GR

Transportation Committee Republicans / Leadership Members

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Tuesday Evening Action Alert

************************
MAKE OR BREAK WEEK UPDATE: TUESDAY EVENING
URGENT
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.
OUR MISSION
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.
TWITTER AND FACEBOOK
TONIGHT’S MESSAGE: @LawmakerXYZ The job-killing Baucus #BigTobacco bailout is STILL in the highway bill. STRIP it 2NITE! http://bit.ly/NewTax
PHONE
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.

-GR

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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

Republicans

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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:

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.”

————-

TAXTRACKER!

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

***BEGIN TEXT OF BAUCUS BIG TOBACCO BAILOUT***

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.”.

***END TEXT OF BAUCUS BIG TOBACCO BAILOUT***

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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