Monday, February 27, 2006


Follow the Money III - This Bud's For Sue

First, we'll admit it: we like beer. We like beer in all its varieties; like a frosty mug of crisp, cold American draft; a bottle of Mexican with a lime wedge; a dark German with a good head. So, don’t get us wrong, we like beer.

However, the beer industry has been behind some of the most regressive legislation coming out of Washington. Legislation that’s really hurting consumers, little guys, the middle class – just about everyone in the NY 19th CD.

Let’s follow the money and do some homework. First stop…the National Beer Wholesalers Association (“Big Beer”). They have a website, and they have a PAC. (I bet you know where we’re going with this, because where there’s a PAC, there are campaign “contributions.” aka. “bribes” in some circles)

Let’s check out Big Beer’s website and see what legislation they might be pushing. Credit them for this: they make no secret about what they want.

Big Beer:

- pushed hard for the disastrous tax cuts for the rich that have shifted the tax burden to the middle class and thrown the federal budget totally out of whack.
Permanency of Death Tax Repeal
Capital Gains Tax

- favored gutting workplace safety rules and neutering OSHA.
OSHA Ergonomics Regulations

- opposed federal drunk-driver legislation.
National .08 BAC Standard

- opposes compulsory bottle-recycling and deposit legislation.
Recycling Legislation

- wants lobbying expenditures to be tax-subsidized.
Lobbying Deductibility

If you have any doubt why these ideas are bad for America, bad for the 19th District and bad for you, read. If you’ve already got that figured out, then just skip ahead.

The Estate Tax (which Frank Luntz, the Republican phrase-maker, so cleverly renamed the “Death Tax”), originally had two purposes: First, like all taxes, it was a way of raising money to pay for the things that we want our government to do for us. Second, it was a steeply progressive tax, meaning that most people, including all of the poor and the middle class, weren’t affected by it at all. The tax didn’t kick in unless an estate was worth over a million dollars. Contrary to the Republican and FAUX NEWS spin, this tax had no adverse impact on family farms and small family businesses, because the exemption was so high. (Also, Democrats in Congress proposed to make the Estate Tax even more farm and small business friendly, but those proposals weren't allowed to make it to the floor). So it was only a tax on REALLY BIG money. As such, another of its purposes was to encourage the wealthy to spread their cash around while they are alive, and discourage the concentration of wealth to pass on from from generation to generation which results in a permanent royalty class. This tax was good for the economy, good for the little guy, and good for the country.

But Big Beer, the Washington lobby of the beer industry – this is not your mom-and-pop package store, this is the lobbyist for the guys mom-and-pop have to buy from -- supports the Republican majority who are bankrupting the government by cutting the taxes on the wealthiest Americans, leaving the government without the money needed to pay for the stuff we need – like health care, education, body armor for our kids in Iraq.

In 2001, President Bush pushed through a package of tax cuts that eliminated most of the taxes on his real base, the wealthiest 1% of Americans. (How much was YOUR tax cut?) To make it seem affordable, he proposed that the tax cuts should be temporary and would expire in 2011. Now, as we all know, Bush has wrecked the Clinton balanced-budget, blown through the Clinton surpluses, and, with an assist from our own Sue Kelly, has rung up the biggest deficit in US history. Part of that disaster was the repeal of the Estate Tax. But Big Beer wanted to make those cuts permanent, quick, before their guys were run out of Washington on a rail.

Capital gains tax, is another tax aimed mainly at a very narrow percentage of the population....mainly people who don't work for a living. Already lower than the tax rates on earned income – i.e. lower than the tax rates on your paycheck – the Bush administration – and Sue Kelly – decided to make the tax rates on the folks who collect from their broker instead of their employer even lower, which is just what Big Business, and Big Beer, said they wanted. Don’t worry about paying for government services, Sue, you don’t really serve the folks who need’em.

Workplace Safety. During the Clinton administration, OSHA enacted new regulations to promote workplace safety, and workers’ health. Big Business, like Big Beer, opposed the Clinton agenda of protecting workers and making the workplace safer. So, in March 2001, Sue Kelly voted along with the Republican majority to repeal those safety regulations, and prevent OSHA from acting to protect workers from job-related injuries. Remember the miners in West Virginia, anyone? Compassionate, huh? But that’s what Big Business, and Big Beer, wanted, and that’s what they got. Thanks, Sue, for selling out your constituents' health and safety.

Highway Safety. You’d think that the folks who are responsible for moving beer around on those huge trucks would care about highway safety, right? But they want to prevent the federal government from setting a drunk-driver blood alcohol standard and prevent the federal government from requiring that those beer truck drivers from having to be properly licensed to drive trucks on highways. Why? Ask Sue.

Deductions for Lobbying. Do you have to ask? You don’t get a deduction for trying to influence legislation. Why should Big Beer? But that's exactly what they want, and they want Sue's help.

And why would Sue Kelly aid and abet this insanity with her support for all of Big Beer’s positions?

Let's play: Follow The Money

It seems supporting Big Beer has been good for Sue Kelly's campaign coffers. How good? Well, in the last 4 election cycles, Sue Kelly has received more than $42,000 from Big Beer’s PAC, another $10,000 from the Anheuser-Busch PAC, another $5,000 from Heineken’s PAC, and even more from the other PACS that receive beer PAC contributions. Let's visit the FEC website and take a look at those contributions:

Why does Sue love Big Beer and why does Big Beer love Sue? All you have to do is Follow The Money.

Sue, this Bud's for you.

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