Monday, June 8, 2009

Rapid response ...

As in yours is needed. This missive from the Brewers Association tumbled into the email queue today.

Like we have said, the battle has been joined, and the Brewers Association is conscripting craft beer drinkers to act like a militia and speak out, state by state, against higher excise taxes by writing their lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

New Jersey's own Bob Menendez is on the Senate Finance Committee. One more time, here's his email. And the blue graphic shows addresses for his New Jersey and DC offices.

The best approach is a two-pronged one, meaning don't just email, but send the same comments via conventional mail as well. Also, when you write, cite. Pull information from the Brewers Association's arguments and point out that higher federal taxes will hurt New Jersey craft brewers, who are a source of jobs and state and local taxes, regardless of how many jobs or however much those taxes paid at home are.

It's also worth pointing out – as we have before – that beer, wine and liquor* have been paying Uncle Sam's bills for several decades. It would be unfair and too easy for Congress to tap that source again. But the unfortunate stigma that beer, wine and liquor have attached to them make them the easy – even vulnerable – target. DUI, underage drinking and alcoholism are not solved through higher taxes (nor should any thinking person accept those as reasons to fund healthcare reforms so long as cigarettes are a commercially available product in this country).

If you're over 45, you probably remember when soft drinks came, not in Big Gulps and 20-ounce containers, but in 12-ounce bottles (or even 6 and 10 ounces from vending machines!) and that fast food was a sometimes food, served in modest portions, and not an everyday food. And it should mean something to healthcare reformers, Capitol Hill and the Obama administration that five years ago McDonald's, to its credit, dumped its Super Size menu, thanks, in no small part, to blow-back from those outsized portions making outsized Americans. Oversized sodas and fatty, prepared or prepackaged foods own a piece of the erosion of the nation's overall health and their industries should be asked thusly to share a tax burden.

*Awhile back, Pennsylvania beer writer Lew Bryson put forth the idea that calling beer, wine and liquor alcoholic beverages is an unfortunate choice of words, unfairly tying them to negative connotations of alcoholics and alcoholism. (Lew didn't pontificate; he just pointed out his preference to not phrase references to the beverages in that way.) We share his point of view: Hence, beer, wine and liquor.

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