Max Baucus: Small Business Assassin

Max Baucus - CaricatureNot content with masterminding Obamacare, which taxes, regulates, and disincentivizes the healthcare industry into nothing more than a capitulatory utility under government control, Democrat Senator Max Baucus used the recently passed transportation bill as the vehicle to exterminate thousands of jobs with the stroke of Barack Obama’s pen.

In addition to the $400 million the senator earmarked for his state’s highway system, the Montana senator mischievously added a separate and unrelated special interest earmark to the transportation bill as a nod to his Big Tobacco benefactors at Altria, a parent company of tobacco giant Philip Morris.

How did he appease Big Tobacco, one of his campaign contributors?

He destroyed Little Tobacco.

As people are wont to do, smokers sought ways to save money by frequenting the growing industry of roll-your-own cigarette stores, which sell papers and loose tobacco, then let patrons roll their own cigarettes by renting rolling machines kept on the premises. Distributing tobacco products in this manner was akin to people brewing their own beer at home in lieu of buying cases of brew from larger manufacturers that they didn’t care for.

The transportation bill rider “closes a loophole” in the tax code by designating these mom and pop shops as cigarette “manufacturers,” subjecting their customers to an additional $25 a carton in costs and taxes and subjecting the stores to expensive and prohibitive regulatory burdens that could force over a thousand of these shops across the country to shut their doors. Thousands of jobs will be lost in the process.

Just as the Obamacare tax/mandate doesn’t technically compel individuals to buy health insurance, the new taxes and regulations don’t compel roll-your-own cigarette businesses to close their doors. In both cases, it just works out that way. In addition, taxpaying employees that were providing revenue to cash-strapped governments will now drive up deficits as they are added to the unemployment rolls.

The justification?  Continue reading

Fat, Sick, and Waiting for the government to save us

Obesity Campaign Poster
(Photo credit: Pressbound)

Have you ever pulled into a strip mall for lunch, and sat in the car for a minute surveying the options? McDonald’s golden arches are calling your name, but you know that’s a bad habit you want to kick. Subway is a solid choice, and there’s also that new organic place with the great salads. Maybe your kids are in the backseat. They are shouting for the chicken nuggets and french fries, but you’re the parent, and it’s up to you to decide. Or so you think…

The way Reuter’s new special report portrays the battle between the federal government and the food industry, your “choice” is determined by actions miles away in the nation’s capital.  It’s Big Government vs. Big Food, and all your Big Gut can do is sit back, watch, and hope the good guys win:

(Reuters) – In the political arena, one side is winning the war on child obesity.

The side with the fattest wallets.

After aggressive lobbying, Congress declared pizza a vegetable to protect it from a nutritional overhaul of the school lunch program this year. The White House kept silent last year as Congress killed a plan by four federal agencies to reduce sugar, salt and fat in food marketed to children.

And during the past two years, each of the 24 states and five cities that considered “soda taxes” to discourage consumption of sugary drinks has seen the efforts dropped or defeated.

It’s debatable whether the food industry or Congress has the “fattest wallet”, and probably comes down to how many maxed-out credit cards Congress is carrying at the moment. Regardless, the framing of this story from the outset is that the battle for our national health comes down to money, as if our collective waistline expands or contracts based on whether legislators accept Big Food’s bribes or remain steadfast in their principles. Big money lobbyists can certainly have a corrupting influence on government, but the common liberal trope that the masses are pawns at the mercy of corporate advertising campaigns is an enfeebling one. It’s also not true. We are still a free people with considerable means and a plethora of information available on what constitutes healthy food choices. The responsibility to make the right ones falls on us.

Reuters continues:  Continue reading