I was right about it being a bad bill. Nobody benefits from this bill -- nobody -- except beer, wine and liquor distributors. Consumers lose, wineries lose. It's a classic product of corruption, the sort of law you expect in a third-world country where the president's brother owns the company that benefits. Whether you're a Tea Party tax hater or a Code Pink peacenik, it's a bill that's easy to hate.
I was wrong about it having no chance. As of May 13, the bill has garnered 85 co-sponsors in the House, Democrats and Republicans both. The reason is that beer distributors pour money on the House like a 4-year-old pours syrup on pancakes. It's an election year, so your House member needs cash to make TV commercials about how he's not one of those Washington insiders.
So it's time for all of us who drink wine, beer, cocktails, anything with alcohol in it, to email our House representative and tell them, "We don't want this."
As usual, Tom Wark has done the best summary of this bill, and it's here. In a nutshell, HR 5034 would make it more difficult for small wineries and breweries to get their products to consumers.
Its impact would differ by state, and would be much worse in states where the legislature is more corrupt (New York) or more anti-alcohol (Pennsylvania). But by making life more difficult for small wineries, it would threaten their existence, and if you're a wine lover in any state, you don't want that.
Here's a nifty site for contacting your House member by email. Just put in your home address and your house rep's and senators' email links pop up.
If you want to see if your representative has already thanked the beer distributors for their cash by co-sponsoring the bill, here's a map of the corrupt 85, which I hope will be updated.
And here is a short sample email. I have sent this to my Congressperson, Nancy Pelosi, who -- as a wine lover -- will hopefully vote against the bill. But Pelosi is a pragmatist: Democratic incumbents as well as Republicans need cash for November, and the beer distributors are standing there with an open checkbook. We can't trust her, or any member of Congress, to do what's best for consumers if we're not paying attention.
Dear Congressperson Pelosi:
I hope you will oppose HR 5034, the anti-consumer bill that would make it difficult for small wineries and breweries to get their products to consumers.
I know beer distributors are large contributors to political campaigns, but I hope you will find ways to raise money without providing such an obvious payoff.
This bill benefits nobody but beer, wine and spirits distributors. It is bad for consumers and small businesses and does not help local communities or governments in any way.
Those who support it will be demonstrating for anyone paying attention that their vote is for sale. As you are my representative, I hope you will show the integrity that this district expects.
W. Blake Gray