Beware of Your Beer Baron Buddies

Let's storm the barricades, beer drinkers -- The rebellion is on!

Perhaps you're one of the majority of Americans who're soon to receive somewhere between nothing and a pittance from George W's highly-ballyhooed $1.4 trillion tax cut. He took good care of his superrich buddies, the wealthiest one percent of Americans who'll reap 43 percent of this windfall, but 26 percent of Americans will get zero reduction in their federal taxes, and most other folks won't get enough to cover a six pack a week.

Which brings us back to you connoisseurs of the brewer's art. Conjuring up images of the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, the beer barons of America are demanding that the federal beer tax of about 25 cents per six pack be cut in half, declaring that it's time that "Joe and Jane Six-Pack" got a break. A spokesman for Miller beer, owned by the multibillion-dollar tobacco giant Philip Morris, almost got teary-eyed when he noted that most beer drinkers are low and middle-income folks -- "There's a basic fairness issue," he said, choking back a sob.

The Miller man can count on Rep. Jerry Kleczka of Wisconsin to stand with him. "If congress can repeal the estate tax for billionaires," Kleczka said, "then congress can roll back the beer tax for Joe Six Pack." OK, saving 12 and half cents per six pack isn't much of a tax break, but we're dealing in principle here. Did I mention that Miller beer is headquartered in Kleczka's district?

Of course, one principle that might be on the minds of the beer barons is the "green principle" ... as in profits. That 12-and-half cents, multiplied by all the six packs consumed, adds up to $1.6 billion a year in taxes. But if these taxes are eliminated, what's to keep Miller, Budweiser and the rest from simply holding the price of a six pack the same ... and pocketing the $1.6 billion for themselves?

This is Jim Hightower saying ... Be careful beer drinkers -- not everyone standing next to you in the pub is your friend.

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