h.r. 5034

Behind the Numbers

H.R. 5034 update: Behind the numbers

H.R. 5034 update: Behind the numbers 800 1132 celo4life

Behind the Numbers

A short time ago, I wrote my, “H.R. 5034 – The Bill of Greed“, blog entry that received a lot of positive comments from many of you. Today, I have decided to go even deeper and break down the numbers so everyone has an idea where we are in all of this. As I was doing my research for this update, I was surprised by many things which I will share with you all. For now, let’s go behind the numbers!

Behind the Numbers

Image key (for the slow folks) Democrats= Democrats = Republicans

Acronym Key: NBWA = National Beer Wholesalers of America  WSWA= Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America

H.R. 5034 Political Contributions Research, Election Status & Polling Data Report

Please keep in mind that all of the figures presented are as of June 23, 2010. On June 23, 2010, there were 121 co-sponsors from the House of Representatives. Out of those 121:

Democrats 79 42

This is very important to note because traditionally, both the National Beer Wholesalers of America and The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America support Republicans. However, since the Democrats have held the House in the past few years, the money has trended towards the Democrats. But in the grand scheme of spending, Republicans still dominate the dollars.

Top 10 pay outs from NBWA (Career)

The following lists are the top 10 highest paid members of the House of Representatives who have signed onto the bill by the NBWA & WSWA. While the money may not seem very large, keep in mind, this is money that’s accounted for. As we all know, there are ways to get around contribution limits.

  1. Democrats Rep Boyd, Allen [FL-2] – $75,000.00
  2. Democrats Rep Pomeroy, Earl [ND] – $69,750.00
  3.  Rep Diaz-Balart, Lincoln [FL-21] – $69,500.00
  4.  Rep Coble, Howard [NC-6] – $68,200.00
  5.  Rep Mica, John L. [FL-7] – $58,500.00
  6.  Rep Simpson, Michael K. [ID-2] – $55,000.00
  7. Democrats Rep Peterson, Collin C. [MN-7] – $53,200.00
  8.  Rep Miller, Gary G. [CA-42] – $52,500.00
  9.  Rep Diaz-Balart, Mario [FL-25] – $50,042.00
  10.  Rep Capito, Shelley Moore [WV-2] – $50,000.00

Top 10 pay outs WSWA (Career)

One thing you’ll notice here, is that the money contributed isn’t nearly as much as the NBWA, but these members of the House are still influenced by the money.

  1. Democrats Rep Dingell, John D. [MI-15] – $26,000.00
  2. Democrats Rep Towns, Edolphus [NY-10] – $24,574.00
  3. Democrats Rep Boyd, Allen [FL-2] – $22,592.00
  4. Democrats Rep Pomeroy, Earl [ND] – $20,500.00
  5. Democrats Rep Rush, Bobby L. [IL-1] – $17,500.00
  6. Democrats Rep Berkley, Shelley [NV-1] – $15,800.00
  7.  Rep Coble, Howard [NC-6] – $14,000.00
  8.  Rep Shuster, Bill [PA-9] – $12,000.00
  9. Democrats Rep Murphy, Patrick J. [PA-8] – $11,500.00
  10.  Rep Diaz-Balart, Lincoln [FL-21] – $9,500.00

Top 10 Combined Payouts (Career)

  1. Democrats Rep Boyd, Allen [FL-2] – $97,592.00
  2. Democrats Rep Pomeroy, Earl [ND] – $90,250.00
  3.  Rep Coble, Howard [NC-6] – $82,200.00
  4.  Rep Diaz-Balart, Lincoln [FL-21] – $79,000.00
  5. Democrats Rep Dingell, John D. [MI-15] – $73,000.00
  6.  Rep Mica, John L. [FL-7] – $58,500.00
  7.  Rep Simpson, Michael K. [ID-2] – $58,500.00 (tied for 6th)
  8.  Rep Diaz-Balart, Mario [FL-25] – $57,042.00
  9. Democrats Rep Peterson, Collin C. [MN-7] – $55,292.00
  10.  Rep Miller, Gary G. [CA-42] – $55,000.00

Payouts for 2010 Session

NBWA:  Democrats $1,444,370 – 51.3% $1,372,842 – 48.7%

WSWA: Democrats$249,648 – 68.7%  $113,750 – 31.3%

Total: Democrats$1,694,018 – 53.3% $1,486,592 – 46.7%

Average: Democrats $21,443.27 – 37.7% $35,394.05 – 62.3%

Do you see what I mean when I say that Republicans dominate the money? Although these organizations have given less to Republicans this session, the average contribution is much more significant.

Total Payouts

NBWA Total (Since 1989):

$21,490,595 Democrats $7,048,035 – 32.8% $14,421,310 – 67.2%

WSWA Total (Since 1998): 

$2,249,416 Democrats$957,699 – 42.6% $1,291,717 – 57.4%

Further Analysis

Over the history of the NBWA & WSWA, they have traditionally given more money to Republicans than Democrats. This could mean Republicans may be more receptive to their causes or it could just mean that since they controlled congress in recent years, they figure their money is better served on that side of the aisle.  If you also look at the average contributions, more money is given to Republicans than Democrats. I am willing to bet that it may be easier to sway Democrats to take their name off as a co-sponsor if the opposition can make a more convincing argument. This is where we all come in. The letters we write to our House Representatives help, but you can also attend their town hall meetings and try to get your voice heard there. Most of these town hall meetings tend to be about the most controversial issues, but if you get a chance to ask a question, make sure to bring this up. That’s how the word can spread further, especially if there are camera crews present 😉 There is, of course, another way: Lobbying! We all hear about the bad parts of lobbying, but there are people who lobby for good causes like ours. There are efforts on-going, but we need a whole lot more.

Should We Be Concerned Yet?

Here are some facts that may allow you all to breathe a little bit easier:

  • 9 of the co-sponsors on this bill are currently behind in the polls.
  • 2 of the co-sponsors are retiring at the end of the year
  • 2 of the co-sponsors are running for other offices and will be out at the end of the year
  • 2 of the co-sponsors are running for senate and are way behind in the polls
  • 1 of the co-sponsors has lost their nomination and will be out at the end of the year
  • 1 of the co-sponsors is running for governor and is essentially out at the end of the

The number of House members signing this bill may seem dangerously close to the numbers needed to bring it to the floor, but with this piece of data, we can eliminate a few people.  As a reminder,  The House of Representatives is voted on every two years, so every co-sponsor is up for re-election. The polling is still early so some of these folks can still catch up in the polls. Many of these folks will be so consumed with their campaigns and other activities that this bill will get pushed further and further behind. While we can’t rely on this, this will give us more time to prepare our arguments, craft our attack strategies, and make sure this bill never gets passed!

Here is another interesting fact. Out of all the co-sponsors, only House Democrats Rep Hastings, Alcee L. [FL-23] & Rep Wasserman Schultz, Debbie [FL-20] have not taken money from either side yet have co-sponsored the bill. It’s very unusual in this political era, but it may be something specific to Florida. I think people should target these two members and see why they agreed to co-sponsor the bill. Maybe they can be convinced to take their names off the bill.

Final Thoughts

We all have been sending letters to our own members of congress, telling them to stop H.R. 5034, but maybe we should start targeting people who have co-sponsored the bill. An effective strategy may be linking our efforts with a cause they believe in. For example: Respecting the constitution and how it wasn’t designed to protect monopolies, but the will of the people. As we you and I know, choice in the marketplace is the will of the people and that should be respected. Do your research on these representatives and make your case. Another suggestion is for the H.R. 5034 opposition to team up with folks from other causes that may have a similar interest. That’s how you grow a movement and defeat a bill. You may not agree with the other sides ideals, but you may have common ground on this issue and may be able to gather their support. Another suggestion, and probably the most important one, is to team up with those who enjoy spirits. Remember, wine is only a piece of the iceberg. H.R. 5034 is also targeting the direct shipment of spirits and the spirits community stands to lose if this passes as well. If we all team up, we can grow our movement and increase our chances of defeating this bill. Finally, keep up the pressure and don’t let up! Keep writing letters, making phone calls, attending town hall meetings, and make your case. Also, talk to those who may share your interests, but may not know about the bill.

In my next blog entry on this topic, I will update you all on the polling data and the money counts so you can target your efforts.

H.R. 5034 – The bill of greed

H.R. 5034 – The bill of greed 689 426 celo4life

Before we begin, I thought it would be a good idea to familiarize ourselves with the issue presented before us. Like I always say, to know is to understand. So here are a few links on H.R. 5034 – Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness (CARE) Act of 2010 also known as The Bill of Greed:

House Resolution 5034 (The Library of Congress Website)
Palate Press’ analysis on H.R. 5034
Stop HR5034 (Official Opposition Website)

Note: After multiple Google searches, I cannot find anyone who supports this bill besides the 121 tools in the House of Representatives who co-sponsored the bill (as of June 22, 2010) and the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

The short legal version (if there really is one), this bill aims to do a few things: Amend the Wilson & Webb-Kenyon act, alter the commerce clause in relation to the states regulation of alcohol, reverse the burden of proof from the states to the consumers in relation to legal challenges, and a few other things.  The short non-legal version, this bill aims to stop direct shipments of wine to consumers by wineries & online wine & spirits shops, increase tax revenues for the states, and apparently protect little Timmy & little Sarah from obtaining alcohol.

There are many reasons why this bill is ridamndiculous, but here are a few:

  •  The National Beer Wholesalers Association, who wrote the bill, feels like you should be protected from the evils of direct shipments of wine because little Timmy or little Sarah (your underage drinking children) may go online and order a case of wine (cheap or expensive) and drink their asses off. I don’t know about you, but when I was under 21, I didn’t care about wine. Wine was the last thing we thought of when we were at high school or college parties. So for them to make this argument is very weak! Just ask any kid/young adult between 16 – 20 to name which types of alcohol they would drink at a party and I guarantee only 5% will even mention wine (not including wine coolers).
  • Although the sponsors of the bill and the NBWA say that this will not end direct shipment of wine, this is exactly their intent. The states are worried about all the legal challenges that have come from the Granholm v. Heald case and the costs associated with defending their discriminatory practices against out-of-state products. But more importantly, they’re concerned about tax collection.  The NBWA is only concerned about controlling the market and protecting its market share.
  • Although the states and alcohol wholesalers say this bill will not discriminate against out-of-state products, this is exactly what will happen. Remember the tax collection issue? If you control the flow of alcohol between what the state brings in and what the wholesalers bring in, you’ll have better control over tax collection. With direct shipments, the tax is applied at point of origin instead of where it’s shipped. That’s mainly because you open yourself to the possibility of taxing the same item multiple times before it arrives to the consumer. An issue consumers have fought since the declaration of independence. So in their minds, the best way to control the tax revenue stream is to kill the practice all together.

Here is my take on all of this. I think this bill is completely flawed and self-serving. The NBWA already has a huge market share/monopoly in this country. Why should the laws be changed because they can’t adapt to a changing environment? This is greedy on their part and the laws shouldn’t be changed just to further their cause. The states are another issue. They always use the guise of protecting children in cases like this in order to scare the public into agreeing with their opinion. In reality though, this is only about tax revenue and they could care less if little Timmy or little Sarah gets their hands on some product. As long as they collect their share of the tax revenue, they don’t care. And speaking of children, let’s talk about the issue of children potentially obtaining wine or spirits via direct shipment. I tested a few websites that offer this to consumers and did you know that before you even put in your credit card, you’re served with multiple disclosures stating that you must be 21 years of age or older and that the person signing for the alcohol also must be so? This will also be verified at the time of delivery. So, if minors actually get their hands on alcohol by tricking the system, whose fault is it really? Based on the amount of disclosures and declarative statements, I think the wineries and online stores have done a sufficient enough job. This alone is enough to defeat this part of the bill, but if they really wanted to be smart about it, why not add an age verification system to the process where the consumer enters their driver’s license number/ID number into a secure database or some other form of age verification? That’s a simple fix to the system if it’s really a concern and in the 21 century, this technology is readily available. However, we all know, this isn’t the issue. It’s all about the Benjamins!

In closing, although I don’t think this bill will see the light of day,  I would like to encourage you to write your fellow congressman and make sure your opinions are heard! These are the issues that many of us Americans overlook because they’re not sexy or dramatic like healthcare. These are the kinds of bills that you have to keep your eye on because even it gets defeated, they’ll try to sneak it into a much larger bill that is very important in order for it to pass. Without your voice, politicians may think you don’t care about the issue and vote with the wholesalers. So speak out, educate others on this issue, and make your voices heard!