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Arizona Conservatives

Obama teams with Philip Morris to beat ‘tobacco industry’

Posted By on June 24, 2009

In an article by Timothy P. Carney, an Examiner Columnist, he said:

President Barack Obama signed a bill Monday that the largest tobacco company in America had championed for years. Obama nevertheless claimed he had taken on Big Tobacco and won.

As Obama signed the “Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act,” giving the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco, he proclaimed in the Rose Garden: “Today, despite decades of lobbying and advertising by the tobacco industry, we’ve passed a law to help protect the next generation of Americans from growing up with a deadly habit. …”

But on Tuesday morning, the home page of Philip Morris, which controls a majority of the U.S. cigarette market, blared “Philip Morris Supports Federal Regulation of Tobacco.”

Was Obama ignorant of the $40,000-a-day pro-regulation lobbying effort by the country’s biggest cigarette maker?

Was Obama surprised by the applause Monday from Philip Morris’ parent company Altria, calling the bill “an important and historic achievement”?

This is just another example of Crony-Capitalism. The article goes on to say:

The company’s third-quarter 2005 report to shareholders explained that Philip Morris “endorsed federal legislation introduced in May 2004 in the Senate and the House of Representatives known as the Family Smokwing (sic) Prevention and Tobacco Control Act” — the very bill Obama signed Monday.
Obama’s rhetoric painted the opposite picture. Obama said in signing the bill, “despite the best efforts and good progress made by so many leaders and advocates with us today, the tobacco industry and its special interest lobbying have generally won the day up on the Hill. … Fifteen years later, their campaign has finally failed. … Today, change has come to Washington.”

The kernel of truth in Obama’s claims is that the smaller cigarette makers — perceiving that this bill will protect and enhance Philip Morris’ dominance of the industry — have mostly opposed the legislation. But it’s misleading to claim you’re battling the “tobacco industry” when you’re siding with the industry’s 900-pound gorilla.

Does this seem a little deceptive to you? Mr. Carney closed his article by saying:

Regarding that “special interest lobbying” Obama claimed to be battling, Philip Morris is the unrivaled industry king. Since 2003, the tobacco lobby has spent $155 million. Altria spent a majority of that — $83 million. Although the rest of the industry was lobbying against this bill, most of the lobbying money was on the pro-regulation side.

Altria retained 16 outside lobbying firms at the start of 2009 and has added four more since then, three of which were lobbying for this bill.

Altria is also the leading campaign contributor in the industry. In 2008, Altria gave 66 percent more to politicians than did runner-up R.J. Reynolds.

“When I ran for president,” Obama said Monday as he signed the Philip Morris-championed bill, “I did so because I believed that despite the power of the status quo and the influence of special interests, it was possible for us to bring change to Washington.”

Whatever the merits of federal regulation of tobacco, it’s hard to square this rhetoric with his signing this bill. I asked the White House on Monday to clarify this, but the spokesman did not respond by Tuesday afternoon.

Obama may represent “change,” but — in this case at least — not the sort you can believe in.

Read the full story here.

We have to look past the façade of pretense that this administration presents to see the real truth. Thankfully, we have reporters like Mr. Carney who present the truth and not the propaganda that the rest of the mainstream media seems to want to drown us in.

Timothy P. Carney, The Examiner’s lobbying editor, can be reached tcarney@washingtonexaminer.com. He writes an op-ed column that appears on Friday


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