Is it possible for one man to shut down an entire industry? The answer is yes, and Senator Max Baucus proved it. The Montana democrat slipped in a provision deep within a transportation bill that would impose punitive taxes upon roll your own cigarette businesses. Here is an excerpt from the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
But a few paragraphs added to the transportation bill changed the definition of a cigarette manufacturer to cover thousands of roll-your-own operations nationwide. The move, backed by major tobacco companies, is aimed at boosting tax revenues.
Faced with regulation costs that could run to hundreds of thousands of dollars, RYO machine owners nationwide are shutting down more than 1,000 of the $36,000 machines.
"I feel it's kind of shaky,'' Wiessen said. "The man who pushed for this bill is Sen. (Max) Baucus from Montana, and he received donations from Altria, a parent company of Philip Morris. Interestingly enough, there are also no RYO machines in the state of Montana. It really makes me question the morals and values of our elected speakers."
Why would a senator from Montana pull a stunt like that? In 1991, the big sky state reportedly had 3 acres of harvested tobacco. The golden leaf isn’t exactly a staple in their economy. The answer is 2014. That is the year Mr. Baucus faces reelection. He needs all the money he can get to retain his seat. And he will destroy the lives of small business owners to maintain it. After all, there are no tobacco farmers or RKO machines in his state.
The parent company of Phillip Morris couldn’t have found a better stooge to bribe.