Saturday, March 06, 2010

Quote of the Day: Richard Nephew

“Isn’t that the way things go in the American system? It is something new for us to actively get involved in the American political process, but we are trying to learn what works in America, and I guess making political contributions is something that works.”
That's Seneca Nation foreign relations committee co-chairman Richard Nephew, speaking to the New York Times about how his western New York Indian tribe managed to block a bill that would have ended their mail-order cigarette business.

It's a clear case of how the American political system works: a bill making the shipment of cigarettes through the mail illegal had the support of just about everyone, including big tobacco companies who didn't like the tax-free competition from the Seneca Nation. It passed in the House last spring, 397 to 11. But once the Seneca Nation started spending lobbying money, mysterious opposition began to surface. And it's not from Republicans. From the Times:
But at the last minute, two or three Democratic senators told party leaders privately that they might block the bill, according to senior Senate Democratic aides. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
It is also interesting to note that the bill would not effect mail-order cigars. It's easy to see Washington cigar aficionados pulling some strings here, but let's face it: cigars, no matter how cheap, don't pose nearly the same risk for teenagers that cigarettes do.

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